What is throat cancer?

Most throat cancers are squamous cell carcinomas that start in the lining tissues of the throat. Cancers can occur in any part of the throat, including the nasopharynx, the area behind the nasal cavity; the oropharynx, the area behind the mouth; and the hypopharynx, where the throat branches into the trachea and esophagus.

Symptoms of throat cancer may include a lump or bump in the throat that does not go away, a sore that will not heal, a persistent sore throat, earache, altered hearing, or difficulty talking or breathing.

When caught early, throat cancer has a high cure rate with appropriate treatment, typically surgery, radiation therapy or a combination. Following treatment, speech therapy can help you relearn how to swallow and talk, if needed.

As throat cancers grow, they can interfere with breathing. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for severe difficulty breathing or for uncontrolled bleeding. It is important to catch throat cancer as soon as possible so that the chances of curing it are increased. Seek prompt medical care if you have symptoms of throat cancer such as a nonhealing lump or sore in the throat, sore throat, ear symptoms, or difficulty talking or breathing, especially if any of these symptoms last more than a week or two.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of throat cancer?

Symptoms of throat cancer can include nonhealing sores or pain in the throat or ear. They can also include symptoms related to the tumor’s interference with normal throat function.

Common symptoms of throat cancer

Common symptoms of throat cancer include:

  • Cough that gets more severe over time
  • Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
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CAUSES

What causes throat cancer?

Although the specific cause of throat cancer is not known, several risk factors have been identified, including tobacco use, which is the strongest single risk factor for developing throat cancer, and alcohol use. Infection by human papilloma virus plays an important role in the development of genetic changes that initiate the development of cancer.

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TREATMENTS

How is throat cancer treated?

Treatment of throat cancer begins with seeking regular medical care throughout your life. Regular medical care allows a health care professional to provide early screening tests that can detect cancer in its most treatable stages. Regular medical care also provides an opportunity for your health care professional to promptly evaluate symptoms and your risks for developing throat cancer.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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This Article is Filed Under: Cancer