Have a cough that won't go away or a sore throat that won't quit? They may be symptoms of throat cancer. Learn what to look for when it comes to throat cancer and how to prepare for your doctor's appointment.
Throat cancer is also known as vocal cord cancer, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the glottis or cancer of the pharynx. It happens when abnormal cells in a person’s voice box, vocal cords, or other parts of the throat multiply and divide uncontrollably.
Early diagnosis and start of treatment improve the prospect of recovery however, it can be difficult to detect throat cancer in its early stages. Most signs and symptoms of throat cancer are similar to common cold and allergy. The common throat cancer symptoms include a lump or sore that does not heal, and a sore throat or cough that does not go away. Read to know more on symptoms of throat cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Throat Cancer
The symptoms of throat cancer depend mainly on the size and location of the tumour. Common signs and symptoms of throat cancer include:
- hoarseness of voice or other changes in voice
- lump or lesion on the lip, in the mouth or in the throat, which does not heal for weeks
- difficulty in swallowing or pain or difficulty in chewing
- feeling of lump in the throat
- coughing or persistent sore throat (sore throat may persist even after treatment with antibiotics)
- white patch or red patch on the gums, tongue or the lining in the mouth
- pain, bleeding or numbness inside the mouth
- swollen lymph glands or swelling in the neck
- neck pain or frequent ear pain
- pain or swelling in jaw
- bad breath
- significant weight loss
- blood in cough
- abnormal (high-pitched) breathing sounds and wheezing
Possible Throat Cancer Symptoms
Some other possible signs of throat cancer include:
- numbness or paralysis of facial muscles
- persistent facial pain
- persistent neck pain (pain does not go away)
If you develop the above symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you have throat cancer. It is, however, important to see your doctor or any other qualified medical professional if you or any of your family members experience any of the above throat cancer symptoms for more than two weeks. Your healthcare provider can do tests so that a proper diagnosis is made and appropriate treatment can be started.
Also read: Diagnosis of throat cancer
Preparing for Your Doctor’s Appointment
An appointment with your doctor can be brief and you would want to discuss a lot of things, it is helpful to plan in the questions in advance. Be ready with the following information before hand.
Pre-appointment Restrictions- Your doctor may want to do some diagnostic tests on you and it is a good idea to ask before taking the appointment if you need to do something in advance, such as restricting your diet.
Noting Symptoms- You should write down every symptom you might be experiencing, even the ones that seem unrelated to the reason of your visit to the doctor.
Personal Information- Make a note of your personal information such as any major stressful event or any recent life changes. Also, tell the doctor if you have a family history of cancers.
Medications- List all the medicines, vitamins, and supplements that you might be taking at the given time. It helps the doctor in knowing if one of it might be causing any symptoms that you are experiencing or if it could interfere with the course of treatment.
Taking Help- You would want to take a family member or a friend along to for the doctor’s visit. They might help you remember all the relevant information given by your doctor during the appointment. The person accompanying you can note down things while you are conversing with the doctor so that nothing gets missed.
Questions- Make a note on your phone or somewhere about the throat cancer symptoms you are experiencing so that you don’t forget to mention any to your doctor. Knowing all the problems from you helps the doctor make correct diagnosis about your condition.
Also read: How can throat cancer be prevented
When the time with your doctor is running out, it could make you leave out on important questions to ask your doctor. Consider the following crucial to be asked:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests do I need to detect the symptoms of throat cancer?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the approach that you're suggesting?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you are prescribing me?
Your doctor will also ask you a number of questions, like what are the symptoms of throat cancer that you are experiencing. You should be ready to answer them.
In the meantime, to avoid the signs of throat cancer, you could avoid things that worsen them, like tobacco and alcohol. If you have throat pain, you must not consume foods and drinks that aggravate the irritation. If you are finding it difficult to eat because of throat pain, you could satiate yourself with nutritional supplements.
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