Throat Cancer Symptoms

Patients speak with doctorThroat cancer symptoms typically vary from patient to patient. Some people notice warning signs shortly after a tumor starts to develop, while others do not experience anything out of the ordinary until the cancer has spread to nearby tissues. The most common symptoms of throat cancer are caused by the tumor placing pressure on other structures in the throat or mouth. These symptoms include:

  • A sore throat
  • A chronic cough
  • A sudden raspy tone to the voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty talking
  • Pain in or behind the ears
  • A palpable bump in the throat

Other symptoms can develop as the cancer starts to spread and affect other parts of the body. For instance, many people with metastatic throat cancer experience persistent fatigue and unexplained weight loss. Cancer that spreads to the mouth can cause small, open sores in the lips or gums and can also cause swelling of the jaw. These symptoms don’t always mean that a person has cancer. Many throat cancer symptoms can also be caused by more common, less serious conditions such as strep throat. As a result, several different tests may be required for diagnosis. Imaging scans, blood tests, and biopsies (microscopic analysis of a tissue sample) can all help pinpoint the exact cause of a person’s symptoms.

At Tampa General Hospital, patients can be treated by head and neck cancer specialists. Because our oncologists work exclusively with cancers of the head and neck, they are uniquely familiar with the treatment of each of these cancers and can provide a customized treatment plan.

To be connected with one of our cancer specialists, call (813) 844-2200 or use our PhysicianFinder tool.