Munson Health
Throat Cancer

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by Hellwig J

(Cancer, Throat; Cancer, Oropharyngeal; Oropharyngeal Cancer; Nasopharyngeal Cancer; Cancer, Nasopharyngeal)


Risk Factors

Factors that can increase your chance of developing throat cancer include:


If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to throat cancer. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
  • Sore throat
  • Feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
  • Voice changes or hoarseness
  • Change in voice quality
  • Pain in the head, throat, or neck
  • Lump in the neck
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Coughing blood


When throat cancer is found, staging tests are done to find out if the cancer has spread. Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer.

Radiation Therapy

This is the use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may be:
  • External radiation therapy—radiation directed at the tumor from a source outside the body
  • Internal radiation therapy—radioactive materials placed into the throat in or near the cancer cells


This is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be given in many forms including pill, injection, and/or via a catheter. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel through the body killing mostly cancer cells, but also some healthy cells.

Combined Modality Therapy

Often times, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used together to kill cancer of the throat. This combined approach may be better than surgery or radiation alone.


To reduce your chance of getting throat cancer, take the following steps:


American Cancer Society




BC Cancer Agency

Canadian Cancer Society



Forastiere AA. Head and neck cancer: overview of recent developments and future directions. Semin Oncol . 2000 Aug;27(4 Suppl 8):1-4.

Forastiere AA, Trotti A. Radiotherapy and concurrent chemotherapy: a strategy that improves locoregional control and survival in oropharyngeal cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst . 1999 91(24):2065-2066.

General information about oropharyngeal cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: . Accessed May 1, 2013.

What are the risk factors for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers? American Cancer Society website. Available at: . Updated February 26, 2013. Accessed May 1, 2013.


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