Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

Plainsboro and Monroe, NJ

Doctor examining a patient's throat

What You Need to Know About Throat Cancer

Throat cancer, also known as laryngeal or pharyngeal cancer, is a malignant condition that develops in the tissues of the throat. It typically arises in the larynx (voice box), pharynx (the tube that connects the nose and mouth to the esophagus), or the tonsils. Throat cancer can manifest with various symptoms, including persistent hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, a sore throat that doesn’t heal, or the sensation of a lump in the throat. 

Early detection is crucial for successful treatment, and various therapeutic approaches, such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, may be employed based on the stage and severity of the cancer. Regular medical check-ups and lifestyle changes can aid in the prevention and early identification of throat cancer.

What Puts You at Risk for Throat Cancer?

Woman asking herself, "Is my throat pain cancer?"

According to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Smoking and excessive alcohol use have been associated with as much as 75% of throat cancer cases. You may be at a higher risk for throat cancer if you:

  • Smoke or chew tobacco
  • Drink alcohol excessively
  • Have nutritional deficiencies from a diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Are exposed regularly to toxic substances such as asbestos or nickel
  • Contract viruses such as HPV or Epstein-Barr (EBV)

There’s also a higher incidence of throat cancer in people who are:

  • Men
  • Over the age of 65
  • African American

What Does Throat Cancer Feel Like In the Beginning?

Throat cancer can grow very quickly, so if you are concerned, you should schedule a visit to be evaluated. Getting treatment early improves your odds of better outcomes.

The most common early symptom is a persistent sore throat.

Some symptoms of throat cancer are:

  • Changes in your voice or ability to swallow
  • Hoarseness
  • Sore throat lasting weeks
  • Persistent cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lumps in the neck or throat
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Swelling in the face or nose

Some patients also get headaches, pain in their jaw, or earaches.

I have a lump on my throat that hurts. Is it cancer?

A lump in the throat can be a sign of throat cancer, and the same is true of a persistent sore throat, though these can also be signs of other health issues. If you have either, it’s best to come in and see us. We will give you a thorough evaluation and, if necessary, do additional tests, including:

  • Biopsy
  • Imaging
  • Scoping

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