Throat cancer is a rare form of cancer that develops in the throat, larynx or tonsils. Some of its most common symptoms include a persistent sore throat and/or cough, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, ear pain and a neck mass. It can develop quickly, which is why early diagnosis is key to successful treatment.
Risk factors for throat cancer
Tobacco use is the most common risk factor for throat cancer. Other risk factors include:
- Heavy alcohol use
- Having human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Being male
- Asbestos exposure
- Having a genetic condition, such as Fanconi anemia or Dyskeratosis congenita
Individuals who identify with one or more of these risk factors and have potential symptoms of throat cancer for longer than a week should be evaluated by a physician, who can conduct a full physical exam and determine if further testing for throat cancer is warranted. The most common test for throat cancer is a laryngoscopy, which many doctors can perform in their office. If the test reveals abnormalities, the next step is to consult with a specialist for a biopsy and further testing.
Moffitt Cancer Center’s approach to throat cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center offers comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis and treatment for throat cancer under one roof. Our Head and Neck Cancer Program comprises a wide range of specialists, from medical oncologists to emotional support providers and more, that work together to develop individualized treatment plans for our patients. In many cases, a patient’s throat cancer will be treated using a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Patients also have access to a variety of supportive care services, such as counseling and tobacco treatment, to help them through their cancer journey and beyond.