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Smoking, sore throat. Prescribed amoxicillin. Ear pain and neck. Can this be throat cancer?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 2307 Questions
I am concerned about my throat. Unfortunately I used to smoke. I smoked from when I was about 19 to 27 and then quit. I am now 37. I had a relapse and smoke for 6 months, and quit again about a month ago. About 2.5 weeks ago, I developed a minor sore throat that wouldn't go away. Last weekend I went into a walk-in clinic and the did a strep test. At first they thought it was negative, but at the end of the test thought they could see a very faint line, so they put me on amoxicillan. This was last Saturday. My throat didn't start feeling better until Tuesday. Now it pretty much feels better but now I am having some minor ear pain and a pulling sensation in my neck on that side. I am extremely concerned that this is related to a throat cancer or something, and can't stop thinking about it. My question is, how long should I be waiting before going in to see a doctor aside from the walkin clinic? I don't have any other symptoms than what I have listed. Thank you.
Posted Mon, 16 Jul 2012 in Cancer
Answered by Dr. Prasad 7 hours later

Thanks for the query.

Smoking is associated with a definite risk of nasopharyngeal cancers; however your short duration of history is more suggestive of an inflammatory condition. The location of the inflamed structures can be determined by detailed clinical examination.

Also let me assure you, ear pain can follow throat inflammation as it is directly connected to the throat by Eustachian tube. You may also develop ringing sensation, ear popping, fullness of ear, some mild ear discharge with or without inflamed lymph nodes in the neck and around the ear.

These symptoms may last for a week or two and should gradually disappear. Steam inhalation, anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil twice a day and warm salt water gargles will aid in faster recovery.

You can visit your local ENT surgeon if symptoms persist for more than a week or if you develop fever / any of the aforementioned symptoms.

Hope this answers your query. Let me know if you need more information.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Smoking, sore throat. Prescribed amoxicillin. Ear pain and neck. Can this be throat cancer? 12 minutes later
Thank you very much. My ears in fact have had that fullness feeling today as well as the pulling sensation on the side of my neck.

I guess I was also confused by the positive strep throat test as I had no other symptoms besides the sore throat and my kids were not and still have not gotten sick and I thought strep was pretty contagious. Also, my mom said I had scarlet fever as a child and that my pediatrician back then said that I would never get strep because I had the scarlet fever twice. Is it possible the positive strep test was inaccurate?

Thank you.
Answered by Dr. Prasad 8 hours later
Hi and thanks again,

I apologize for the delayed response.

1. Well, it is clear that there is some inflammation happening in the throat and this has spread to the ear through the Eustachian tube. And like I mentioned earlier, you should be fine in a few days.

2. Scarlet fever is caused by an erythrogenic strain of and is different from other strains of streptococcus. It is true that once you are infected with scarlet fever, you wouldn't get back scarlet fever due to immunity. However this immunity doesn't cover all other strains of streptococcus.

So you wouldn't get scarlet fever again, but you can be prone to other strains of streptococcus.

3. "Strep test" is known to be highly specific (specificity of 98-99%). A positive test is very accurate diagnosis of streptococcal infection. You need not doubt that.

In all, the short duration of inflammation of throat as well as the ear is due to streptococcal infection. Cancer is very, very unlikely. So do not worry.

Hope this answers your query. If all your concerns are addressed, please close this discussion.

Wish you speedy recovery

Best Regards
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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