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Throat Cancer Symptoms & Diagnosis


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; referred to as “hot potato” voice
  • Pain in the head, throat, or neck
  • Lump in the neck
  • Unexplained weight loss


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. The doctor may feel for any lumps in the neck. You may be referred to an otolaryngologist, a doctor who specializes in head and neck surgery.


  • Laryngoscopy —a thin, lighted tube inserted through the mouth to examine the inside of the throat
  • Panendoscopy—extensive exam of the oral cavity, oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, and trachea using a fiberoptic scope
  • Fine needle aspiration —use of a thin needle to remove a sample of throat tissue to test for cancer cells
  • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the throat
  • PET scan —a special scan using radioactive glucose that circulates throughout the body; x-ray is then taken and the radiation shows up, showing cancer cells
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the throat
  • Incisional biopsy —surgical removal of a sample of throat tissue to test for cancer cells

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2023 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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