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How quickly does throat cancer develop for smokers?

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Posted on Thu, 10 Dec 2015
Question: Hello, lately I've been worried about throat cancer. I sometimes have a feeling of a lump in my throat but goes away. At the same time there is a raw feeling in the back of my throat but not a sore throat type pain just raw. My ears have been very mildly hurting for a few minutes throughout the day and sometimes my tongue is tingly. I smoke on average about 5 cigarettes a day. I also have ms but this doesn't seem like a ms issue. Thank you very much.
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Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti (38 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Unlikely to be cancer. VL'scopy.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

Thank you for your query.

1. Throat cancer is not common. The risk increases after 50 pack years of smoking (one pack of twenty cigarettes per day for 50 years). Hence in your case, the risk is low. If you stop smoking, the risk will come down to that of a non-smoker within 5 years.

2. The lump in throat and the raw feeling can arise from many causes, the most common being inflammation of the normal lymphoid tissue in the throat, acid reflux, allergy and a post nasal drip.

3. Get a Videolaryngoscopy (VL'Scopy) done. If this is normal, regular checkups every six months should rule out any throat cancer. Stroboscopy and NBI (Narrow Band Imaging), if available, are also recommended.

4. The ear pain requires an ear examination. If the ears are normal (appearance of the ear drum, hearing tests), then the ear pain is a 'referred sensation' due to a common nerve supply.

5. The tingly sensation on your tongue may be due to chronic reflux. One of the nerves subserving sensation on the anterior tongue passes through the middle ear.

6. Mild MS may also cause all these sensations.

I hope that I have answered your query. If you have any more questions I will be available to answer them.

Regards.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Sumit Bhatti

Otolaryngologist / ENT Specialist

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 2658 Questions

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How quickly does throat cancer develop for smokers?

Brief Answer: Unlikely to be cancer. VL'scopy. Detailed Answer: Hi, Thank you for your query. 1. Throat cancer is not common. The risk increases after 50 pack years of smoking (one pack of twenty cigarettes per day for 50 years). Hence in your case, the risk is low. If you stop smoking, the risk will come down to that of a non-smoker within 5 years. 2. The lump in throat and the raw feeling can arise from many causes, the most common being inflammation of the normal lymphoid tissue in the throat, acid reflux, allergy and a post nasal drip. 3. Get a Videolaryngoscopy (VL'Scopy) done. If this is normal, regular checkups every six months should rule out any throat cancer. Stroboscopy and NBI (Narrow Band Imaging), if available, are also recommended. 4. The ear pain requires an ear examination. If the ears are normal (appearance of the ear drum, hearing tests), then the ear pain is a 'referred sensation' due to a common nerve supply. 5. The tingly sensation on your tongue may be due to chronic reflux. One of the nerves subserving sensation on the anterior tongue passes through the middle ear. 6. Mild MS may also cause all these sensations. I hope that I have answered your query. If you have any more questions I will be available to answer them. Regards.