Throat cancer

Throat cancer refers to cancerous tumors that develop in your throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) or tonsils.

Your throat is a muscular tube that begins behind your nose and ends in your neck. Your voice box sits just below your throat and is also susceptible to throat cancer. The voice box is made of cartilage and contains the vocal cords that vibrate to make sound when you talk. Throat cancer can also affect the piece of cartilage (epiglottis) that acts as a lid for your windpipe. Tonsil cancer, another form of throat cancer, affects the tonsils, which are located on the back of the throat.

You can reduce your risk of throat cancer by not smoking, not chewing tobacco and limiting alcohol use.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Prevention

Signs and symptoms of throat cancer may include:

  • A cough
  • Changes in your voice, such as hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • A lump or sore that doesn't heal
  • A sore throat
  • Weight loss

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any new signs and symptoms that are persistent. Most throat cancer symptoms aren't specific to cancer, so your doctor will likely investigate other more common causes first.

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