Head and Neck CancersThroat Cancer

Let's Talk About Throat Cancer

From the causes to the cures, we've got everything you need to know on this less common but growing category of cancers making headlines.

    Our Pro PanelThroat Cancer

    We went to some of the nation’s top experts on head and neck cancers to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Salvatore M. Caruana, M.D.

    Salvatore M. Caruana, M.D.Director of the Division of Head and Neck Surgery

    New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia University Medical Center
    New York, NY
    Nadia Mohyuddin, M.D.

    Nadia Mohyuddin, M.D.Head and Neck Surgical Oncologist, Associate Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology

    Houston Methodist Hospital
    Houston, TX
    J. Kenneth Byrd, M.D.

    J. Kenneth Byrd, M.D.Chief of Head and Neck Surgery, Medical Director and Research Director

    Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University
    Augusta, GA

    Frequently Asked QuestionsThroat Cancer

    What’s the best way to prevent throat cancer?

    As an adult, the best things you can do are not use tobacco—and quit now if you do—and limit or avoid alcohol. If you’re a parent, consider have your tween or teen vaccinated for HPV. The vaccine isn’t helpful once someone has become sexually active and likely acquired HPV, which is a virus the body mostly fights off—except when it doesn’t.

    What’s the first sign of throat cancer?

    A sore throat that doesn’t go away is one of the most common early symptoms, along with a lump in your neck, trouble swallowing, and hoarseness or other changes in your voice. Of course, all of these symptoms can occur for other reasons, so pay attention to how long they last. If any these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, have a doctor take a look.

    What does a cancer lump feel like on your neck?

    If a lump on your neck is a tumor it will feel hard and firm from the outside and may be immovable. From the inside it can be painful all the time, but especially when swallowing. A hard mass on the side of your neck could also be due to a swollen lymph node, where throat cancer often spreads.

    Will I lose my voice?

    One of the main goals of treating laryngeal cancer is to preserve as much of your natural voice as possible. In more advanced cases when removing the entire larynx is necessary, you will no longer be able to speak using your vocal cords. You can work with a speech pathologist, however, to learn other ways to speak.

    Stephanie Wood

    Stephanie Wood

    Stephanie Wood is a award-winning freelance writer and former magazine editor specializing in health, nutrition, wellness, and parenting.