10 Symptoms of Throat Cancer
The term "throat cancer" doesn’t actually refer to any single type of cancer. Rather, it implies an agglomeration of several types of cancer that affect the throat and adjacent areas. Such cancers can affect the base of the tongue all the way to the tonsils and surrounding tissues. In many cases, symptoms appear during more advanced stages, making it crucial to get periodic examinations to rule out possible tumors. Smoking and unhealthy diets can contribute to a higher risk of developing throat cancer.
1. Cough or Hoarseness
One of the first symptoms people with throat cancer develop is a cough. If said cough is persistent, it could indicate lung, larynx, or thyroid cancer. It’s important to distinguish the duration of a cough in order to determine its severity. If it’s short lasting and goes away within a few weeks, it’s probably due to a cold or allergy. However, if the cough is persistent in nature and doesn’t improve over time, it’s wise to consult your doctor. If you notice blood in your mucus, you should also consult your doctor.
2. Sore Throat and Difficulty Swallowing
Many people with throat cancer will often experience pharyngitis, more commonly known as a sore throat. This symptom will commonly be accompanied by a sensation of something stuck in the throat. You may also feel difficult swallowing certain types of food; it may even be painful at times to eat or drink. This is caused by a tumor present in the throat or surrounding area. If you have the flu or a cold, you might also have a sore throat, but it will eventually disappear. However, if a tumor is present, the pain will not get better. If you experience long-lasting throat pain, visit your doctor.
3. Changes in Voice
Any changes in the voice or increase hoarseness can signal the presence of throat cancer. This is even more true for cancers affecting the larynx, which is in large part responsible for voice. Other conditions, such as laryngitis, also cause changes in voice. The main difference is that in such cases, the condition often resolves on its own after a short period. If cancer is the culprit, the change usually becomes more severe over time. Pitch, depth, and pronunciation may be affected. If you notice long-term changes in your voice, consult your doctor.
4. Breathing Difficulty or Couch
Amongst the most frequent symptoms of throat cancer is a cough accompanied by difficulty breathing. A tumor located in the throat can stimulate the cough reflex, causing a persistent cough to develop. This may be accompanied by an unpleasant nagging sensation in the throat, as if something was stuck inside it. If the cancer reaches an advanced stage, the size of the tumor may obstruct breathing, which may lead to difficulty breathing as well as wheezing or noisy breathing. If you experience any changes in your breathing pattern, consult your doctor. Sudden difficulty breathing warrants urgent medical attention.
5. Neck Lump
A lump in the neck may develop as a result of a cancer in the throat region. This symptom may not always be present, despite being associated with cancer. In many cases, lumps in the neck are caused by inflamed lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are a system of bean-shaped pods that filter impurities out of the body. When cancer cells develop in the body, these lymph nodes become inflamed. If the infection is cured, the lymph nodes will return to their normal size. However, if they stay inflated for a long period of time, there may be cause for concern.
6. Other Signs and Symptoms
Because throat cancer can appear in many different parts of the head and mouth area, the resulting symptoms may also vary in extent and severity. In some cases, patients experience pain in the chest, or even in the ears. This is known as radiating pain, which travels across the region where the tumor is located. Some people have also reported blood in their saliva, and experience pain while eating acidic foods such as lemons or tomato sauce. Weight loss is another frequent symptom that often accompanies many types of cancers. It is important to report any unusual symptoms to your doctor.
7. Unexplained Pain
Pain is our body’s natural way of telling us that something is wrong. When we are injured, our brain receives pain signals from our body, and as a result, we feel pain. Usually, we are able to pinpoint the cause, such as a scab or a bug bite. However, in some cases the cause of the pain cannot be attributed by touch or feel. In such cases, further evaluation is needed to determine the origin of the pain. Unfortunately, throat cancer has a tendency to cause unexplained pain in different parts of the body.
8.Unexplained Weight Loss
Weight loss is often associated with cancer. And for good reason: it’s one of the easiest signs to spot. When a patient develops cancer, their appetite decreases. This can be a result of hormonal changes or the presence of a tumor in the stomach. As a result, progressive weight loss is experienced. According to the American Cancer Society, a loss of more than 10 pounds is a reason to worry. Even though throat cancer doesn’t directly affect the stomach, it can still cause weight loss. If you feel less hungry than before and notice yourself losing weight, it’s time to call your doctor.
Coughing up blood is a serious symptom that can indicate throat cancer. If you find yourself coughing violently, and if it is accompanied by blood in the mucus, you should receive urgent medical attention. Bleeding can be a sign of advanced throat cancer. This symptom is caused by a tumor in the throat that causes blood to appear in the mucus. It’s important to remember that other conditions may also cause blood to appear in the mucus, such as a flu or allergies. Unusual bleeding can occur during any phase of cancer, but it is more likely to appear in the later stages.
10. Ear Pain
For some throat cancer patients, pain can be felt in areas which aren’t even located in the throat itself. In some cases, pain in the ear can be felt. This isn’t because there’s a tumor located in the ear. Rather, ear pain is a result of what is known as referred pain. This means pain that originates in one area, but is felt in another. In this case, the pain originates from a tumor in the throat, but because of the complex nerves connecting various parts of the head, the pain is felt in the ears. If you’re feeling a mysterious pain in the ear that you can’t explain, it’s a good idea to get it checked out by a specialist.