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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 or swallowing problems with certain foods
  • A mass or lump in the neck
  • Weight loss (unintentional)
  • Some difficulty with breathing
  • Ear pain
  • Constant phlegm production

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.

Return to Larynx Cancer (Throat Cancer)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Cheslee, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: January 11

I was a truck driver that smoked very heavy for ten years. Before that I served in the navy in the boiler room aboard ships. In March of 2014 I got sore throat and a cough. I went to my primary care doctor and he just prescribed cough drops (did not even look at my throat). This went on for 7 months and I made an appointment with my Veterans Affairs primary care doctor. He took a look and said he needed me to see the ENT doctors and made an appointment as soon as he could get me in, which was 45 days later. The ENT doctor used a scope and he sadly informed me I might have cancer. I needed a biopsy to be sure, and 3 weeks later I went for the biopsy. A week later I was told I had stage 4 cancer of the larynx. They placed a feeding tube in also a PICC line in me. On February 10, 2015 they started on chemotherapy, 5 day a week along with radiation 2 days a week for seven week. After 3 weeks my kidneys started to fail, and they switched to a different type of chemotherapy 2 days a week, and 3 days of hydration for the remaining 4 weeks. I went in for a checkup 2 months later, the cancer was back and the only course of treatment was surgery. They did a full laryngectomy, removal of larynx, and that was in August 4th of 2015. I still have swelling in my face and the muscle in my neck are still hard as a rock. I have major problems swallowing and sticking of food in my throat. It's only been 6 months since the surgery. I no longer can talk, no sense of smell, very little taste, and still have a feeding tube to help gain my weight back. Before all this my weight was 250 pounds, I lost 100 pounds, but I now weigh in at 180 pounds. But I am thankful I am alive every day. So if you have any symptoms please see your doctor and have them look at your throat, to save you from a lot of pain and suffering physically and mentally.

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Comment from: Macphee, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: November 25

I am having scope done on my throat next week. I have these symptoms, heartburn, coughing a lot, sore throat, and I find it hard to breathe. I have chest pain at times and my esophagus has thickened. With these symptoms, I wonder if I may have larynx cancer.

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