There are several types of throat cancer, including nasopharyngeal, laryngeal (cancer of the voice box), oropharyngeal, hypopharyngeal and glottic cancer (cancer of the vocal cords).
The carcinogens in cigarette smoke may damage the genetic material (DNA) of cells in tissues in the throat. The heat carried by the smoke into the throat is also a contributing factor to throat cancer.
Under normal conditions, the damaged cells are often repaired. However, in some cases, the damage can not be repaired and leads to gene mutation. Some mutations are particularly dangerous if they involve genes that control cell growth and cell division. A cell may lose its ability to control growth and undergo cell division excessively. This eventually leads to a tumor.
In addition to throat cancer, smoking also increases the risk of lung, kidney, stomach, bladder and pancreatic cancer.