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Diagnosis of Throat Cancer

Updated at: Sep 21, 2011
Written by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Sep 21, 2011
Diagnosis of Throat Cancer

Throat Cancer (Larynx And Pharynx) Diagnosis and Prognosis - Medical history evaluation, tests and staging are some of the ways in which the diagnosis of throat cancer is done.

Cancers of the throat may be discovered during a routine dental examination. If an abnormality is discovered in your pharynx or throat, you will be referred to your healthcare provider or a cancer specialist. Many people with throat cancer may seek medical advice due to persistent throat problems such as coughing or persistent sore throat, hoarseness of voice, and change in voice. If a lesion is found in the throat, the aim of your healthcare provider will be to rule out or confirm the diagnosis of cancer.


Medical history


The doctor will examine you and ask questions about your past medical and surgical history, the medications you take; any family history of cancer, and your habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption.


Tests to Diagnose Throat Cancer


Your doctor will recommend tests in order to rule out or confirm the diagnosis of cancer. Some of the tests which your doctor may recommend include:

  • Endoscopy: This is done to get a closer look at your throat. A special lighted scope called endoscope is used to get a close look at your throat during this procedure. There is a tiny camera at the end of the endoscope which transmits images to a video screen. Your doctor looks at these images to detect signs of abnormalities in your throat.
  • Laryngoscopy: In this procedure another type of scope (called laryngoscope) is inserted in your voice box. It uses a magnifying lens and shows the voice box. It helps your doctor look at your vocal cords and detect signs of abnormalities in your voice box.
  • Biopsy: If an abnormality is detected during endoscopy or laryngoscopy your doctor will take a sample of tissue for testing (that is will do a biopsy). The sample is examined in the laboratory for signs of malignancy.
  • Imaging tests: Your doctor may recommend imaging tests, such as X-ray, computerised tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) as needed. These tests help to determine if the cancer has spread beyond the surface of your throat or voice box.




After throat cancer is diagnosed, your doctor will try to determine the stage of the cancer (that is the size of the tumour, extent of spread, and the type of tumour). Staging is done using imaging tests such as CT, MRI, chest X-ray and bone scan and biopsy. Staging is done for all types of cancer as it helps to decide the treatment and prognosis.


Read more articles on Throat Cancer (Larynx And Pharynx) Diagnosis and Prognosis




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