Throat cancer is cancer of the vocal cords, larynx (voice box), or other areas of the throat.

People who smoke or use tobacco are at risk of developing throat cancer. Drinking too much alcohol over a long time also increases risk.

Throat Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of throat cancer may include:

  • Abnormal (high-pitched) breathing sounds
  • Cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness that does not get better in 3 to 4 weeks
  • Neck or ear pain
  • Sore throat that does not get better in 2 to 3 weeks
  • Swelling or lumps in the neck
  • Weight loss not due to dieting

Throat Cancer Diagnosis

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam. He or she may look in your throat or nose using a flexible tube with a small camera on the end (endoscopy).

Other tests that may be ordered include:

Throat Cancer Treatment

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is scary. Our head and neck cancer experts at Wake Forest Baptist are committed to providing the best possible surgical, medical and radiation care possible.

The goal of treatment is to completely remove the cancer and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body.

When the tumor is small, either surgery or radiation therapy alone can be used to remove the tumor.

When the tumor is larger or has spread to lymph nodes, a combination of radiation and chemotherapy is often used to save the voice box. If this is not possible, the voice box is removed. This surgery is called laryngectomy.

Tumors in the mouth and throat can cause mechanical obstruction to food and liquid swallows. However, more common are swallowing problems after the tumor has been removed or radiated (via radiation therapy). We will work closely with you to diagnose the type of swallowing problem you have and recommend how to treat the swallowing problem, possibly referring you to our voice and swallowing program.