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What are the symptoms of throat cancer?

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Posted on Mon, 23 May 2016
Question: I sing and play guitar for a living. Lately I have noticed a lump and sore throat almost constantly,
what are the signs of throat cancer
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
Other things can cause these symptoms too.

Detailed Answer:
Hello XXXXXXX

I'm sure this is concerning. Do you smoke cigarettes or use other forms of tobacco that would put you at risk for throat cancer?

The most common signs of throat cancer are
Difficulty swallowing
Cough that doesn't go away
Changes in your voice
Sore throat
Unexplainable weight loss
Swelling throat or neck, jaw, or eyes
Bleeding in the mouth or through the nose

The thing is, many of these symptoms can also be due to a throat infection or chronic post nasal drainage down the back of your throat without you even feeling it.

I'd start by
1. Give up any form of tobacco you may use. If you are hooked, see a tobacco cessation specialist or your doctor for help with quitting which can include a medication called Zyban (for cravings) and nicotine replacement (for nicotine withdrawal symptoms).

2. Go to your doctor who can do something called an indirect laryngoscopy. While shining a light in your throat, the doctor uses a little round mirror on a long handle similar to what a dentist uses, and holds it at the back of your throat (without touching it). He/she can then see as far down as your vocal cords in the larynx. If the lump feels lower than that, you should see an ENT. If there are significant concerns, they may also want to get an imaging study such as CT or MRI.

Please don't worry ahead of time if possible and know that MOST of these sorts of things are benign.

Please let me know if I can provide further information or clarification.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3138 Questions

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What are the symptoms of throat cancer?

Brief Answer: Other things can cause these symptoms too. Detailed Answer: Hello XXXXXXX I'm sure this is concerning. Do you smoke cigarettes or use other forms of tobacco that would put you at risk for throat cancer? The most common signs of throat cancer are Difficulty swallowing Cough that doesn't go away Changes in your voice Sore throat Unexplainable weight loss Swelling throat or neck, jaw, or eyes Bleeding in the mouth or through the nose The thing is, many of these symptoms can also be due to a throat infection or chronic post nasal drainage down the back of your throat without you even feeling it. I'd start by 1. Give up any form of tobacco you may use. If you are hooked, see a tobacco cessation specialist or your doctor for help with quitting which can include a medication called Zyban (for cravings) and nicotine replacement (for nicotine withdrawal symptoms). 2. Go to your doctor who can do something called an indirect laryngoscopy. While shining a light in your throat, the doctor uses a little round mirror on a long handle similar to what a dentist uses, and holds it at the back of your throat (without touching it). He/she can then see as far down as your vocal cords in the larynx. If the lump feels lower than that, you should see an ENT. If there are significant concerns, they may also want to get an imaging study such as CT or MRI. Please don't worry ahead of time if possible and know that MOST of these sorts of things are benign. Please let me know if I can provide further information or clarification.