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- Patient Comments: Larynx Cancer - Symptoms and Signs
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- Throat cancer (larynx cancer) facts*
- What is the throat cancer?
- What causes throat cancer?
- What are the risk factors for throat cancer?
- What are the symptoms and signs of throat cancer?
- How is throat cancer diagnosed?
- How is throat cancer staging determined?
- What kinds of specialists treat throat cancer?
- What is the treatment for throat cancer?
- What kind of support is available for those with throat cancer?
- What is the prognosis for patients with throat cancer?
- Can throat cancer be prevented?
Quick GuideCancer 101 Pictures Slideshow: A Visual Guide to Understanding Cancer
What are the symptoms and signs of throat cancer?
The symptoms and signs of throat cancer often vary from person to person. The most common signs and symptoms of throat cancer are nonspecific. Not every patient will exhibit each sign and symptom, but each patient will usually have at least one or two of the following:
- Voice change or hoarseness of the voice
- Cough (usually chronic)
- Sore throat (usually chronic)
- Throat discomfort (feeling like something is caught in the throat)
- Difficulty swallowing
- A mass or lump in the neck
- Weight loss (unintentional)
- Some difficulty with breathing
As stated above, these symptoms and signs are not diagnostic for throat cancer because many other problems can mimic the throat cancer. However, any person who develops these signs and symptoms and has risk factors for throat cancer should immediately discuss them with his or her physician.
How is throat cancer diagnosed?
The person's individual history (especially the presence of potential risk factors) and physical examination may provide a physician with enough suspicious information that the physician will consider throat cancer as a possible diagnosis. Consequently, the physician may strongly suggest doing additional tests to confirm or exclude the diagnosis of throat cancer. Although imaging tests such as CT, MRI, PET scan, and others like chest X-rays and barium swallows provide very useful information about extent and location of the cancer, the definitive diagnosis of throat cancer is made by biopsy of the tumor. Biopsy may be done by surgical incision in the neck, fine needle aspiration of the tumor, or by endoscopic biopsy.