Cancer is a condition that leads to the uncontrollable multiplication of abnormal cells in the body leading to malignant growth also known as tumors. Cancer of the vocal cords, voice box or any other part of the throat like oropharynx or the tonsils is termed as throat cancer.
Throat cancer is generally categorized into two types- laryngeal cancer and pharyngeal cancer. Pharyngeal cancer as the name suggests is the cancer of the pharynx which is the hollow tube running from behind your nose and to the top of the windpipe while laryngeal cancer is the cancer of the larynx or the voice box.
There can be a variety of symptoms of throat cancer and it is not easy to detect throat cancer from its early symptoms and they include:
- Trouble while swallowing
- Change in your voice
- Weight loss
- A sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A persistent cough with blood (not always)
- Ear pain
Let’s look at some of the symptoms in detail:
This is not always present. However, if you feel a persistent lump in your throat, it is best to get it evaluated by the doctor. Neck lumps can also occur during throat infections like strep throat. These are nothing but enlarged lymph nodes or glands and these returns to their original sizes once the germs are eliminated and the infections clear. However, if there is a lump without any infection and that is persistent, it might not be just a lymph node.
Hoarseness in the voice can also be an early symptom of throat cancer. However, just like other symptoms, this is not a sure symptom of throat cancer. You can have a hoarse voice even during viral fever and the hoarseness goes away once you are fine. If the hoarseness is persistent for many weeks, visit the doctor and get it evaluated. It might be due to many reasons, throat cancer being one of them.
A sore Throat and Trouble Swallowing
Trouble while swallowing can also be due to different factors. You have difficulty in swallowing when you have a sore throat and the pain goes away as the infection is treated and the germs are eliminated and it normally stays for a week or a few more days. However, difficulty in swallowing and sore throat should not stay for weeks and months. If you experience any one of these for weeks or months, make sure you visit the doctor. If you are experiencing difficulty in swallowing due to throat cancer then the pain would grow as cancer grows.
Symptoms might vary depending on the exact cancer location. If the cancer is growing on your windpipe, you can experience wheezing or shortness of breath. If it is laryngeal cancer, noisy breathing and ear pain become prominent. Weight loss can also occur with throat cancer.
These are some of the symptoms that you should be on the lookout for early diagnosis and early treatment.