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Signs You Might Have Throat Cancer

Throat cancer refers to cancerous tumors that develop in your throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), or tonsils. Early detection of throat cancer increases the chances of successful treatment. While anyone can be affected, certain behaviors and conditions can increase your risk levels.


Persistent Cough

A cough that does not go away over time could be a signal of throat cancer. While a cough is a common symptom of a cold or other benign conditions, a persistent one warrants attention, especially if it's accompanied by blood or a significant change in your voice.

Changes in Voice

Noticeable changes in the sound of your voice, including hoarseness or not speaking clearly, can be early signs of throat cancer, particularly if they persist for more than two weeks. Voice changes related to throat cancer may be due to tumors affecting the voice box.

Difficulty Swallowing

Throat cancer can make swallowing foods and liquids difficult. This symptom, known as dysphagia, might feel like food is getting stuck in your throat or chest, or you may choke when you eat. While dysphagia can stem from various conditions, persistent troubles call for professional consultation.

Unexplained Weight Loss

Losing a significant amount of weight without trying could be indicative of various cancers, including throat cancer. Unintentional weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be a sign of cancer.

Swelling or Lumps in the Neck

Enlarged lymph nodes or lumps on the neck that do not go away over time can be a sign of throat cancer. These may be palpable and sometimes visible upon inspection.

Ear Pain

Continual ear pain can sometimes be associated with throat cancers, especially if it’s present without any apparent ear condition.

Sore Throat

A sore throat that doesn’t resolve as expected, like one would see with a common cold or allergy, can be a symptom of throat cancer.

Breathlessness or Wheezing

Any persistent changes in breathing, such as feeling out of breath or wheezing, deserve medical attention. Throat cancer may cause narrowing of the airways, leading to these symptoms.

Unusual Bleeding or Numbness

Any unusual bleeding from the mouth or numbness in parts of your mouth or throat can be a sign of throat cancer.


Excessive tiredness can also be a symptom of cancer in general, including throat cancer, particularly if it's chronic and not alleviated by rest.


These signs can also be symptoms of other, less serious conditions, but they still require prompt medical attention to determine the cause. Early detection and treatment are vital. If you experience any of these symptoms, especially if they're persistent and not due to an identifiable and benign cause, contact your healthcare provider for a complete evaluation.

It's worth noting that some risk factors for throat cancer include smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, a diet low in fruits and vegetables, and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Taking preventive measures against these risks can also lower the chances of developing this type of cancer.

If you think you might be at risk or are experiencing any of the symptoms highlighted, do not hesitate to seek professional advice. Reading about potential signs of a serious medical condition can be worrying, so it's important to empower yourself with knowledge and engage in proactive healthcare.

Stay informed, be attentive to your body's signals, and take care of your health.

Takeaway Tips
  • Watch for symptoms that persist or don't have an explanation.
  • Early evaluation and detection can save lives.
  • Leading a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of throat cancer.
  • If you're concerned about any symptoms you’re experiencing, consult with your healthcare provider immediately.