Throat cancer is a condition that affects the tissues in the throat, voice box, or tonsils. If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body and cause serious health problems.
What are the risk factors and symptoms of throat cancer?
Some of the known risk factors for throat cancer include:
- HPV infection
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Chewing stimulants such as tobacco, betel quid, and gutka
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Diagnosis of GERD or other conditions that cause frequent vomiting or acid reflux
Symptoms of throat cancer include:
- Chronic sore throat or bad breath
- Chronic nasal congestion and stuffiness that may worsen with time
- Difficulty swallowing, or pain with swallowing
- Ear pain
- Hoarseness, difficulty speaking, or changes in the way your voice sounds
- A lump, sore, or mass in the back of the mouth, throat, or neck that doesn’t go away
- Trouble breathing or noisy breathing
- Trouble moving the tongue or opening the mouth fully
- Unintended weight loss
How do you screen for throat cancer?
Screening for throat cancer can help detect the disease in its early stages when treatment is most effective. A doctor may perform a physical exam and ask about symptoms, as well as perform other tests such as:
- Computed tomography (CT) scans
What are the treatment options for throat cancer?
Treatment for throat cancer depends on several factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient's overall health. Common treatments include:
- Radiation therapy
In some cases, the multidisciplinary team at St. Joseph Health—consisting of oncologists, primary care providers, radiologists, and other specialists—may combine treatment options to develop your recommended treatment plan. Talk to your primary care provider for more information.