It is not possible to check for throat cancer at home, as the symptoms can vary and may have other possible causes. However, understanding the symptoms can help with detecting the condition and receiving a medical diagnosis as early as possible.

Doctors can order tests to check for signs of throat cancer and confirm the diagnosis. They may do this if a person presents with signs or symptoms that may indicate the disease.

Read on to find out about the signs and symptoms of throat cancer. This article also discusses who can get throat cancer, how doctors diagnose it, and more.

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Symptoms can vary depending on where in the throat the cancer begins. Types of throat cancer include:

  • hypopharyngeal cancer
  • oropharyngeal cancer
  • tonsil cancer
  • nasopharyngeal cancer
  • laryngeal cancer

Knowing which symptoms to look out for at home can help prompt a person to seek medical advice as early as possible. It is important to remember that the symptoms of throat cancer can also occur due to other conditions. Having any of these symptoms does not always mean that throat cancer is present.

It is best for the individual to inform their doctor of all symptoms they are experiencing, as this can help with reaching an accurate diagnosis.

Hypopharyngeal cancer

The hypopharynx is the lowest part of the throat. Symptoms of hypopharyngeal cancer can include:

Oropharyngeal cancer

The oropharynx is in the middle of the throat. It includes the soft palate, tonsils, and base of the tongue.

Symptoms of oropharyngeal cancer can include:

  • lump in the neck or throat
  • persistent sore throat
  • persistent hoarse voice
  • difficulty swallowing
  • pain in the ear or jaw

Tonsil cancer

Tonsil cancer is a type of oropharyngeal cancer. The symptoms of the disease are the same as other oropharyngeal cancer symptoms and can occur when cancer affects any of the following:

  • the palatine tonsils, which are at the sides of the throat
  • the pharyngeal tonsil or adenoid, which is in the nasopharynx
  • the lingual tonsils, which are at the base of the tongue

Learn more about tonsil cancer.

Nasopharyngeal cancer

Nasopharyngeal cancer affects the nasopharynx or the upper part of the throat. Symptoms can include:

Laryngeal cancer

Laryngeal cancer affects the larynx or voice box. Symptoms can include:

  • a lump in the neck
  • hoarse voice
  • difficulty swallowing
  • ear pain

Learn more about laryngeal cancer.

According to Yale Medicine, people over the age of 55 years have the highest risk of throat cancer. However, the condition is increasingly common in younger people due to increasing numbers of human papillomavirus (HPV) cases. HPV is a possible risk factor for throat cancer.

Certain other factors may increase a person’s risk of throat cancer. These include:

  • tobacco use
  • excessive alcohol consumption
  • oral hygiene issues
  • vitamin deficiency
  • the Epstein-Barr virus

It is best for a person to contact their doctor if they have concerns about the risk factors for throat cancer.

If a person notices symptoms of throat cancer at home, a doctor will be able to ask questions about the symptoms and perform a physical examination. They may then order tests to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other possible causes.

Tests a doctor may order include:

  • an endoscopy, which involves inserting a thin tube with a camera and light on the end of it through the nose and down the throat
  • a biopsy, which involves removing a sample of the affected area for laboratory analysis
  • imaging tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, or PET scan, to assess where the cancer has affected or spread to

Following a throat cancer diagnosis, a person’s doctor will be able to discuss their treatment options with them.

Treatment may depend on the type and location of the cancer and whether it has spread. Possible treatments for throat cancer include:

It is not possible to check for throat cancer at home. However, understanding the symptoms of the disease can help a person recognize the condition and consult a doctor as early as possible.

Symptoms can vary depending on the type of throat cancer. Typical symptoms include difficulty swallowing, a hoarse voice, and a lump in the neck or throat.

If a person experiences any of these symptoms, it is best that they contact a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. The doctor may order tests to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other possible causes.