As you might expect, throat cancer symptoms can affect your mouth, tongue, tonsils, voice box and windpipe. Some of the most recognizable signs include painful swallowing, sore throat, hoarseness and other vocal changes, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, wheezing and difficulty breathing. Additionally, throat cancer can cause mouth sores and changes in the color or texture of the skin inside your mouth or throat. To help protect yourself, you can use a mirror to periodically check the inside of your mouth and throat, and also schedule regular dental checkups.
Of course, many throat cancer symptoms can also be caused by nothing more than the common cold. But, if you have a "cold" that lingers longer than usual, or if your symptoms seem to be getting worse instead of better, it is a good idea to see a physician who can help you find out exactly what’s going on.
Can throat cancer symptoms occur in other parts of your body?
To further protect yourself, it’s also a good idea to learn to recognize some less common signs of throat cancer. For instance, in addition to those that can affect the main parts of your throat, there are some less obvious symptoms that can affect other parts of your body, such as:
- Persistent nasal congestion
- Chronic sinus infections
- Frequent headaches
- Unexplained weight loss
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we encourage everyone to be proactive about throat cancer prevention. If you notice anything unusual about the way you feel or how your body functions – especially if the abnormality persists or worsens – let a physician know. Even if the reason is completely unrelated to cancer, a physician can provide an accurate diagnosis and, if necessary, appropriate treatment. If it turns out that you do have throat cancer, you’ll have an opportunity to address it early on, when there are generally more treatment options available.
If you would like to discuss your throat cancer symptoms with an oncologist in the Head and Neck Cancer Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.