Throat Cancer Symptoms

Throat cancer most commonly affects the pharynx, larynx and the vocal cords. The pharynx resembles a hollow, cylindrical pipe; it is about 5 inches long and ranges from the back of the nasal cavity and mouth to the esophagus. Throat cancer of the pharynx, pharyngeal cancer, occurs when the cells in this region begin to divide uncontrollably or without regulation.

Some demographics are at a higher risk for throat cancer. Smokers, tobacco users, severe acid reflux disease sufferers and those with throat cancer in their families are more likely to develop the disease. Throat cancer is not distributed equally across gender; throat cancer symptoms are more common in men than in women. Older men, especially around the age of 50, are most at risk. Individuals infected with Human Papilloma Virus and its variants are also at risk of developing throat cancer symptoms.

Throat cancer symptoms often get lost with those of other diseases because of their indistinguishable nature. Some common throat cancer symptoms include a persistent sore throat, difficulty swallowing, voice abnormalities, hoarseness in voice, oral sores, tongue sores, swollen lymph nodes and ear aches. Other symptoms include bloody sputum, cervical lumps, unexplained weight loss, feeling or presence of a lump in the throat, persistent coughing and abnormal breathing sounds. Most of these symptoms are persistent unlike those of an ordinary sore throat, cold or other common infections. If there are multiple symptoms in a patient, the likelihood of him or her having throat cancer is very high. Throat cancer symptoms may also lead to a diagnosis of other gastrointestinal cancers. About 10 to 15 percent of patients with throat cancer also have cancer of the esophagus or of the mouth. If throat cancer symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, a physician should be contacted to diagnose the condition. A timely diagnosis is the best weapon against throat cancer. At least 2000 Americans die of throat cancer each year; the incidence of throat cancer is highest in African American men, followed by white men and Hispanic men, respectively.

Throat cancer and pharyngeal disorders are diagnosed by otolaryngologists or head and neck surgeons. An otolaryngologist begins by examining the cervical-neck region and reviewing the patient’s medical history. Tissues or cells are removed from the patient in a biopsy to verify the existence and progression of the disease. An endoscopy is usually performed; it is a test that uses camera equipped tubes to visualize the upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. Biopsy samples are analyzed in a laboratory. If cancerous growth is detected, further tests are performed. Imaging tests may be performed to see the progress of the cancer and whether it has spread to other regions of body. These tests generally consist of CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans. The CT scan generates a cross-sectional image of the patient which helps to locate the cancer; the cancer’s development status is observed. The test also helps physicians decide whether it is feasible to surgically remove the cancer. The MRI scans produce extremely detailed images; the MRI scanner picks-up on proton spins and their associated signals given off by the patients body. The MRI scan also generates cross-sectional images of the patient. All in all, throat cancer is easy to cure, however, early diagnosis is critical. If the cancer spreads or metastasizes to other gastrointestinal regions, extensive surgery is required which often alters the patient’s capacity to speak, swallow and so on.

  • Chris swagler

    Hello, i have had these fleshy colored lumps come out of my throught. followed with blood. throat hurts daily, for last 4 years. i keep loosing my voice. feel tiered all the time. and im 26 years old.

  • Dan

    Chris go have your throat looked at , I know thats is a little scary but at least you will be able to get yourself better . Things will work out for you .
    All the best Chris , May you find happiness and joy in 2012 ,

  • josh

    I have a pain in my throat and it only really hurts when i swallow…it feels like something hard is stuck in my throat and i have looked at symptoms and it says different things and this is one of them

  • Ruth

    I have had a skin on my tonsil for many years. It grew quite large then suddenly dissappeared. It is comin back. I always have post nasal drip on that side od my throat, feels like there is something stuck in there and it itches insanely deep inside my ear. Is this something I should be alarmed about? Pay doctor didn’t seemed to be concerned.

  • Shivayan

    Hey!I have one of my freinds who’s going through a hard time right now.Shes coughing up blood and it once came out of her nose so what do you think ??its not cancer or anything right???please do reply!

  • SerenityStorm

    About 8m ago I starting feeling like I have a lump in my throat. Like I swallowed a pill and it got stuck. Feels like istanbul on the right side. I complained once and they told me it was anxiety. 1 and 1/2 months ago I complained again, do they did an ultrasound of my thyroid. They found a 9mm solid and cystic nodual. I was sent to a specialist and he won’t do a biopsy because It’s not 1cm. Mind you 1cm is = to 10mm. And then also told me that the symptoms I have been having have nothing to do with my thyroid nodual. So he is sending me to an ent. Symptoms are, feeling of a lump in throat, neck pain ( bout 3 weeks now), my voice has changed (it’s all deep and hoarse bout a month now), I gag a lot when I try to eat. I cough everyday (but I am a smoker of at least 10 cigs a day), sometimes when I swallow i can feel like a popping sensation, and sometimes it feels as if the right side of my throat isn’t working??? Like when I swallow something it feels like it only gose down one side of my throat. Sometimes I think it’s a little harder to breath but unsure like my cough cuz I smoke. Witch I am in the prosses of quitting.

  • mike

    I have the same symptoms. One side of my neck feel larger. I have trouble swallowing,my jay pops when i chew ,and i sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and i cant breathe in or out.

  • bruno

    I HAVE very sore throat i fill like drinking water every 5 mins i consulted a doc and he told me its a infection my mouth has become red plzzzzzzz help

  • Toby

    I was smoking roll up tobacco heavily for a few years but managed to quit about 3 and a half years ago. I think the unfiltered tobacco smoke has really messed my throat up. I find it difficult to swallow and it feels like I have a hard lump in my throat. I feel this constantly the whole time that I am awake and it can cause me alot of distress and affects my concentration because it acts as a distraction and disrupts my ability to focus all of my attention on a given task. I am annoyed with the government for making tobacco so easily available. Even if I am still two young to have a tumor (30 in two weeks), it is still alarming at how quickly tobacco damaged my health. It is very unfortunate that I managed to quit when I did since I had become a chain smoker but I still feel like this is not enough and am left with the impression that I have damaged my health permanently. I don’t like the idea of getting it checked out with a doctor because what are they expected to do about it? It’s not the type of thing where I would expect there to be a cure and the last thing I would want to happen to me is to have to undergo surgery. That would make the problem worse, not better.

  • aleatha

    I have had a cough 4 over a year now sometimes dry and most of the time I cough up thick mucus sometimes cloudy sometimes grayish yellow chest congestion when I swallow its like my saliva don’t go down ears feel funny hard 2 breath at times a lot of weasing and popping in my noise throat and chest acid can’t keep food down please help

  • Klidi

    I have the same exact symptoms as SerenityStorm! 4 months ago I started feeling like I have a lump in my throat. Exactly like I swallowed a pill and it got stuck. I went at two doctors and they said I have nothing but the sensation of having something stuck in the left side of my throat isn’t disappearing, and I’m starting to completely freak out! I don’t know what to do anymore! Maybe I should get a biopsy done! Please aid me… just even a suggestion would mean so much, I’m really worried! Thank you!

  • christina

    I have difficulty in speaking all over 1 yr and half and it was happened after I have a tonsillitis. My voice sounds so breathy and sounds like crying. I already seen a doctor and they say maybe I have a re-flux due of hyper acidity but I am doubt after I don’t feel any pain on my stomach after avoiding drinking cola and caffeine or any acidic food and taking medicines and later I am under by a treatment of larynxgoscope but I don’t attend any session anymore. help!

  • Some Jerk

    Throat always feels dry, edge of my adams apple (or peak or whatever) feels bone hard (not tender and firm like the rest.. or like it used too). Feels more like a shell or something on the out side of it. Feels hard to swallow… and a little bit of talking, cauging, eating or just about anything that can aggravate it causes pain. This is a new problem… any chance it is a temporary one?

  • micheala

    im scared incase my dad has throat cancer, i’ve read this and its hard not 2 cry about it, ima 15 year old girl that loves her dad so much! want 2 know how you could get rid of it with the help of his family instead of the hospital/doctors because there just messing him around :'(

  • Khalid Imran

    i feel something inside the throat, as something is put in the way going to stomuch while swallowed sine 2 months. i got exray oand result shows spot of injurey is found.

  • cata

    Hi guys, I am a healthcare provider and I feel that sometimes you have to take control of your own health, despite what some doctors may “think” that is wrong. Most of you are having some pretty severe and alarming symptoms. If your doctor is not listening to you, find another one, until you are satisfied and given the attention you need.

  • blah

    So, I also have the bone hard thing at the beginning of my throat along with an elongated uvula for about 2 years. Of late, I’ve been having problems swallowiing. Problem is, i live in Germany and very few doctors speak english. I cannot possibly convey my symptoms in german. I’m a smoker for about 5 years (10 cigs/day and have now cut down to 4 cigs/day). Very scared that I’ve got cancer.

  • boniface

    hi i have been having an abstraction in my throat since august 2009 it started like some sort of flu i had difficulty swallowing and breathing until recently ie jan 2012 when my tonsils were removed but still i can feel the obstruction and i have some difficulty swallowing but i must admit the symptoms have lessened since i had the tonsillectomy the doctor prescribed me antibiotics but Ive seen no changes i stopped smoking 2 yrs ago and man truly we must live holy out here, this smoking thing has a lot of disadvantages than what we take it for, bros and sisters.pls advice and keep up the good work.

  • Titus

    Hi the pain in my throat is killing me. It started out as something small but has really turned into sometthing dreadfull it hurts a lot its been five days now and I don’t what wrong I can’t sleep off late I’ve been smoking hubbly bubbly(okhaa) and last week some time it just gave me a slight itch that’s turned into this unbearable pain

  • Anonymous

    Hi, Im a 16 year old girl, Ive never smoked but the left side of the throat feels swollen and sometimes it hurts when I swollow, its only started a few days ago. Im not sure if I have cancer or not becuase of my age, plus I dont want to freak out my parents. Can anyone help?

  • jen

    hi i am 36 yr old female,have had persistant sore throat since begining of dec11,been to doctors 4 times,sore to swallow,blisters in throat,temp up n down constantly,sore right ear,hoarseness in voice and sometimes loose it,am a smoker since 15 and my grandad and great grandad both died of throat cancer,not sure what to do as had 4 courses of antibiotics from doctors and feel its a waste of him,any advise welcome,thanks

  • Srinivas


    I think you have an upper respiratory infection. Symptoms of Sore throat, sore right ear and fever is more indicative of an infection. May be you will have to undergo a culture and sensitivity test as the organism may be resistant to the antibiotics you have taken in the past.

  • Angie

    Hello to all. I have read all of these and just wanted to leave you my experiences and info on this subject. I too have had throat pain for a couple of years now. Since i have smoked for almost twenty years i assumed it was bexuase of this. I quit smoking and went to a ENT specialist ( ear nose throat) He said it was GERD and prescribes me meds for this. Since then my throat pain has gone away. When the acid in our stomach pumps up in our throat when we sleep it burns the throat causing pain. We can eat leas fatty less greasy foods. Take an antacid and quit smoking. My mother died from lung cancer as a direct result from smoking. PLEASE get help to quit. The gum, patches and chantix all help with cravings. Managing stress and avoid being around people who smoke helps too. Good luck and i hope you all get better. GOD BLESS YOU!

  • Susan

    I had symptoms of feeling like I had tightness in my throat and chest. I felt like I had something in my throat, and had difficulty swallowing. I’ve recently stopped smoking after nearly 20 years – half my life and I was sure something was really wrong with me. It took 3 days to get an appointment at the doctor’s and in those three days I was throwing up and so nervous that I couldn’t sleep. I went to the doctor today and he looked in my throat with a long camera that they insert. He said I had a fungus in my esophagus and gave me an anti-fungal pill to be taken for 2 weeks. This kind of fungus can come up apparently if you’re a smoker. It’s also a sign that you have a depressed immune system, which most smokers do. But, I will not go back to smoking. I feel like I have a second chance. You never know which cigarette will start something bad in your body but you want to stop smoking before you smoke that one. Hopefully, I pray with all my heart that I have. One other thing to add. People who have this kind of fungus can have it spread to other parts of your body and it can be life threatening. The most naturally occurring anti-fungal treatment is Garlic. Be well, love yourself and do not smoke. It isn’t worth it. Whatever you’re getting out of it, isn’t true. I wish I had not smoked those 20 years. I wish I had never smoked one cigarette. Be well and best wishes.

  • Stop Please

    This all started in Sept. 2011. I went into see the Dr. because of a sore throat and feeling like I had a glob of pleghm in the back of my throat that I could not swallow. She told me to take Mucinex (didn’t help), use a Neti Pot (didn’t help) run a vaporizer (didn’t help) take an allergy tab nightly (didn’t help). I did all of this and nothing helped. I went back to the Dr. again and he looked in my throat and saidn he didn’t see anything and that he was going to send me to an ENT. I went to the ENT and they told me that I had GERD. So they put me on Omeprazole for 3 months. It didn’t seem to help at all. I went back to see the ENT again after the 3 months of taking Omeprazole and he checked my throat again. He said that now my voice box was irritated and told me that I might have allergies to something that I am coming in contact with on a daily basis. He told me to try taking a Zyrtec every night. I did this for 2 weeks and that did nothing. I then got an extremely sore throat and a cold with alot of yellowish nasal discharge. I called him back again and he called me in a ZPAC (Azithromyacin) and said that it sounded like maybe I had an infection. I took the ZPAC for the 5 days and nothing has changed. I still feel like I have this pleghm that is in the back of my throat all the time. Sometimes, I can swallow it but the majority of the time I can’t. It also feels like my right side of my throat is not working right (kinda like it’s not taking anything down my throat on the right side). I also have a very dry mouth and noticed that I am having vision issues (my eyes feel like they are straining).