8 Early Signs of Throat Cancer That You Mustn’t Ignore

November 29, 2018
Paying attention to the early signs of throat cancer is really important since they can be mistaken for other illnesses. Prevention is always key!

Pay attention to the early signs of throat cancer and your chances of overcoming it will increase. For this reason, although you might not be a high risk for it, it’s important to know the initial symptoms.

This type of cancer compromises the health of the pharynx, larynx, esophagus, or tonsils as a result of abnormal cell growth.

Although it can affect anybody, people with the highest risk of developing it are people who smoke or people who have suffered the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Currently, it is considered to be one of the most dangerous forms of cancer, since it lacks obvious symptoms to prevent early diagnosis.

Considering this, we want to share some of the signals that could be useful for early detection.

Read on!

1. Hoarseness or odd changes in your voice


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Abnormal cell growth in the throat can start at the vocal cordsfor this reason, one of the first signs of throat cancer is a notable change in the tone of your voice.

  • Prolonged hoarseness for more than three weeks, or a sudden change in your voice, are sufficient reasons to visit a doctor.
  • Sometimes, it may be caused by infections or problems associated with smoking; however, it may also be more serious.

2. Pain in the throat

It’s difficult to consider a simple throat pain as a symptom or a sign of cancer. Often, this irritation is caused by an infection of common respiratory illness.

However, when it’s persistent or appears intermittently, it’s important to find out its origin.

  • The appearance of tumors in this area can cause the re-occurrence of this symptom. It may also be more intense when swallowing or shouting.

3. Bad breath


If you have bad breath and it doesn’t disappear with good oral hygiene habits, it could be a sign of something more serious. Although you don’t have to immediately jump to conclusions, you shouldn’t rule it out, either.

  • Patients that develop this disease tend to have a lot of difficulties controlling the smell of their breath. This persists even though they might use mouthwash or special oral hygiene products.

4. Difficulty breathing

Difficulty breathing, also known as dyspnoeais a symptom and early sign of throat cancer that might signal an obstruction in the respiratory tracts.

  • It can be caused by a serious infection, but also could be a sign of tumors.

5. Swelling in the neck


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The appearance of bulges in the neck can be caused by various things. In this case, in particular, it tends to occur because the tumor has managed to spread to the lymphatic glands located around the throat.

  • This sign should be considered a good reason to visit a doctor immediately since it might be a sign that the cancer is getting worse.

6. Persistent need to cough

Patients with respiratory problems or allergies tend to have recurring coughs due to the response of the immune system to the presence of a foreign agent.

When there’s a problem in the throat it can become chronic.

  • At first, it may appear to be a dry cough, accompanied by irritation. Then, when the tumor advances, it can cause ulcers or bleeding.

7. Noisy breathing


When the tumor isn’t addressed early, the cancerous cells continue dividing and causing great pain in the surrounding tissues.

As a consequence, they cause an obstruction in the respiratory tracts, causing noise every time the person inhales.

  • This noise is known as laryngeal stridor and it’s the result of a tightening of the opening between the vocal cords.
  • If it’s not treated early, cancer could block it completely and cause asphyxiation and death.

8. Difficulty swallowing

The majority of patients with early signs of throat cancer begin to suffer significant weight loss due to the difficulty of swallowing food.

  • The presence of tumors narrows the esophageal opening and causes food to get stuck. This, in turn, causes muscular weakness and increases the recurrence of acid reflux.

After identifying these symptoms, it’s crucial that you go immediately to a specialist.

After the doctor does a thorough evaluation of your symptoms, he may request an endoscopic exam or other tests to confirm the diagnosis. So, it’s crucial to visit a specialist when you start detecting some of these early signs of throat cancer.

  • GBD 2015 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence, Collaborators. (8 October 2016).
  • Rosenblatt KA (2004). “Marijuana use and risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma”. Cancer Res. 64 (11): 4049–54.
  • Schmitz, M. (2012). “Loss of gene function as a consequence of human papillomavirus DNA integration”. International Journal of Cancer. 131 (5): E593–E602