Throat cancer is a type of head and neck cancer. In its early stages, symptoms can be hard to distinguish between throat cancer and less serious conditions such as a head cold. Let’s take a look at some of the signs of throat cancer as well as when to see a doctor.
A Sore Throat Is Often the First Sign of Throat Cancer
Typically, the earliest sign of throat cancer is a persistent sore throat. However, it’s important to note that many other conditions, like acid reflux or allergies, can also cause lingering pain in the throat and that there is no need to panic if you have this symptom. Instead, make an appointment with your doctor or primary care provider for any sore throat that lasts longer than two weeks. Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms and provide an accurate diagnosis.
Additional Throat Cancer Symptoms
As throat cancer progresses, other symptoms will likely develop. These include:
- Chronic cough
- Hoarseness or other voice changes
- Difficulty swallowing or pain when swallowing
- A lump or mass in the mouth, throat or neck
- Pain in the ear or jaw
- Swelling in the eyes, jaw, throat or neck
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bleeding in the mouth or nose
Eventually, the cancer may spread to the lips, mouth and nearby lymph nodes as well as other body parts, and cause additional symptoms. If the cancer spreads to your lungs, you may experience trouble breathing or cough up blood. If the disease spreads to your bones, it can lead to joint pain and occasionally, fractures.
When To Make an Appointment with Your Primary Care Provider
As with all progressive illnesses, the earlier throat cancer is diagnosed, the better your treatment options and outcome will likely be. If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your medical provider. While chances are good that a less serious condition is the cause, getting checked out can determine exactly what the cause is and provide you with a path toward the correct treatment.
So, if you have a chronic sore throat, lingering cough, or have noticed that your voice sounds odd at work or when ordering a latte at Fort Thomas Coffee, don’t hesitate to make an appointment.
The good news is over the years mortality rates for throat cancer have decreased. Early detection can help increase your odds of successful treatment and a positive outcome.
If you have additional questions or wish to schedule a visit with one of our specialists, call ENT & Allergy Specialists today.