Common Symptoms of Throat Cancer

Throat cancer is a group of cancerous condition of the pharynx and larynx. These are again associated with carcinoma of the lips, mouth and nasal cavity. By histological appearance, throat cancer belongs to squamous cell carcinoma where the squamous cell lining of pharynx and larynx goes into anaplasia. Rarely, it may be adenocarcinoma. Metastasis generally occurs to the lymph nodes of the neck (submandibular is the most common place). The cause of throat cancer is mainly tobacco smoking and Human papilloma virus (HPV). Common symptoms of throat cancer are –

  • Hoarseness of voice – this is the main complain in laryngeal carcinoma. Vocal cord is present in the larynx and the cancerous condition leads to defective movement of vocal cord. So, there is hoarseness.
  • Persistent sore throat – dull pain in the throat that does not wane off even after a full course of antibiotics. The cancer cells destroy the nerve endings of the pharynx and larynx causing constant pain in the throat.
  • Recurrent cough – recurrent bouts of cough are also noticed due to constant irritation in the throat. Cough can be associated with copious mucous expectoration. It may be sometimes mixed with blood also.
  • Palpable lump – swelling may be present in the throat, neck or rear aspect of the mouth. It is firm to hard when palpated and the surface is irregular. Initially the lump is freely moveable. At the later stage of the throat cancer, it gets fixed with the surrounding structure.
  • Pain in the ear – as the cancerous cells traverses through the fascial layers, irritation of the auditory and facial nerve occurs. This may lead to pain in the ear and frontal part of the face.
  • Breathing difficulty – when the tumor is large enough to block the trachea, the patient may suffer from difficulty in respiration.
  • Weight loss – no obvious reason can be found for persistent weight loss. Patient with throat cancer may present to a doctor for the first time complaining of pain in the throat and remarkable loss of weight.
  • Bleeding from the nose and throat – as the thin blood vessels are destroyed, bleeding from the nose or through the throat can occur. The distinctive feature of a throat cancer is that there will be painless bleeding.
  • Small nodules in the neck region – when the localized cancer of the throat metastasizes to adjacent lymph gland of the neck, small nodules can be felt in this area (just below the angle of the jaw, and mentum).
  • Difficulty in swallowing – when the tumor grows in size and blocks the esophagus or encompasses it, patient can suffer from difficulty in swallowing.
  • Headache and pain in upper teeth – these can happen when the cancer cells engulf the trigeminal nerve. There may be pain in the back of the eyeball.
  • Facial palsy – paralysis of the muscle of the face can occur when facial nerve is involved. There may be masked face, closure of the eyelid and drooling of saliva from angle of the mouth.

These are the common symptoms of throat cancer. The symptoms may vary in patients according to the size of the tumor and the degree of metastasis.

Category: Disease and Conditions

Tags: breathing difficulty, cancer, cancer symptoms, facial palsy, hoarse voice, palpable lump, persistent sore throat, recurrent cough, throat cancer