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Signs and Symptoms of Throat Cancer

Throat cancer refers to the cancer that develops in the throat, namely the pharynx, the larynx or the tonsils. Approximately 24,000 people in the US are diagnosed with some stage of throat cancer every year, with half of those cancers occurring in the pharynx, and half in the larynx.

Most throat cancers are caused by environmental factors, such as alcohol and tobacco products, making this cancer relatively preventable. We have put together a list of the common signs and symptoms of throat cancer below:

The Signs and Symptoms of Throat Cancer are as follows:

  • A sore throat that does not go away
  • Hoarseness
  • An enlarged lymph node on the outside of the neck
  • A lump or sore in the throat that does not go away
  • A cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Painful swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent earache

The signs and symptoms of throat cancer can mimic many other conditions. See your doctor if these signs and symptoms of throat cancer persist for more than six weeks.

The most common risk factors for throat cancer are smoking and alcohol use. Chewing tobacco is also a risk factor. The HPV virus has recently been identified as being a greater risk factor than smoking. Low intake of fruits and vegetables is also a risk factor for throat cancer. As well, exposure to toxins such as nickel and asbestos contribute to a larger incidence of throat cancer.

Both patients and their doctors easily overlook the first signs and symptoms of throat cancer. Although early-stage throat cancer has a high cure rate, cure rates decrease in advanced cases. Approximately 70% of throat cancers are in an advanced stage at the time of diagnosis.

Diagnosis of Throat Cancer

To diagnose throat cancer, a doctor may recommend an endoscopy to look for signs of abnormalities in the throat. If abnormalities are detected, a biopsy is done to collect a tissue sample. Imaging tests such as a CT scan, an MRI or a PET scan may be used to determine if the cancer has migrated beyond the larynx or pharynx.

Books for People With Signs and Symptoms of Throat Cancer

Bangers and Mash – How to take on throat cancer, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and win, with help from an NLP coach
Keith Hern
My Voice: A Physician’s Personal Experience With Throat Cancer
Itzhak Brook MD

Cancers of the Mouth and Throat: A Patient’s Guide to Treatment [CANCERS OF THE MOUTH & THROAT]
William M. Lydiatt
21st Century Ultimate Medical Guide to Throat Cancer- Authoritative, Practical Clinical Information for Physicians and Patients, Treatment Options (Two CD-ROM Set)
PM Medical Health News

Throat Cancer Resources

General Patient Resources

  • National Cancer Institute

Information about throat cancer treatment, prevention, causes, clinical trials, research, statistics, and other topics from the National Cancer Institute.

  • Better Medicine

Information Including Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Causes, Videos, Forums, and local community support.

  • About . com

Learn more about the symptoms of throat cancer, a type of cancer that is related to smoking and drinking.

  • ShareCare

Throat cancer refers to several types of cancers that affect different parts of the throat. Learn more from our experts about throat cancer.

  • Cancer Compass

Our online forum at is a great place to start your research for additional information and resources about throat cancer.,0,119,39,6.htm

  • MD Junction

Throat Cancer Forums. Discussions, Q&A and friends dealing with Throat Cancer.

Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, treatment of pharyngeal cancer and laryngeal cancer.

  • Pub Med Health

Reviews causes, incidence, risk factors, symptoms, treatment, prognosis and complications.

  • Medline Plus

A service of the US National Library of Medicine.