Throat Cancer Symptoms: Sorting Through the Signs
When it comes to throat cancer symptoms, your larynx and pharynx are the two places susceptible to throat cancer. Your pharynx begins behind your nose and ends at the larynx, or voice box. Pay attention to symptoms of throat cancer here, particularly if you use tobacco and alcohol, have been exposed to human papillomavirus (or HPV, which many adults get eventually), suffer certain gastrointestinal diseases or come into contact with toxins frequently.
So how do you determine signs of throat cancer? You won't know definitively without a biopsy because many throat cancer symptoms get confused with other diseases and mouth problems. Make sure you see a doctor or dentist should you notice any of these potential throat cancer signs, especially if they won't go away:
Laryngeal Symptoms of Throat Cancer
Your larynx has three parts: The glottis is the middle section of your vocal chords, with the supraglottis above and the subglottis below.
Primary throat cancer symptoms for cancer of the larynx include:
Earache - Aching ears as signs of throat cancer tend to be rare. And you can also get ear aches from temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJs or TMDs), severe dry socket after a tooth extraction or even an abscessed tooth.
Halitosis - Chronic bad breath could signal a variety of dental problems including gingivitis, or it may be one of the throat cancer symptoms of the larynx. Either way, visit the dentist for help if halitosis lasts more than a week or two.
Hoarse Voice -Acute laryngitis usually comes with a cold, flu or too much coughing, shouting or screaming. If it lasts more than three weeks, you might want to consider it one of the signs of throat cancer.
Swallowing Difficulties - These throat cancer signs range from a feeling of a crumb caught in your throat to a complete inability to swallow. You might experience pain or burning sensations. These discomforts could indicate symptoms of throat cancer ... or they could indicate a narrowing of your esophagus or burning tongue syndrome. Either way, see a dentist for help.
Unplanned Weight Loss - This could be related to swallowing difficulties. But unexpected, rapid weight loss in a short period of time could denote other diseases. If you're not on a diet and are losing weight rapidly, see your doctor.
Nasopharyngeal Throat Cancer Symptoms
The muscular pipe called the pharynx divides into three sections too. At the top, the nasopharynx affects the ears, nose and throat. In addition to swallowing difficulties and hoarse voice described above, look for these throat cancer symptoms of the nasopharynx:
Lumps or Growths - These appear anywhere in the neck. If you have one of these signs of throat cancer for more than three weeks, see your doctor.
Other Ear Problems - Hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear) or fluid collecting. These tend to happen in only one ear.
Nose Issues - Blocked or stuffy noses, particularly on one side, and blood in your nasal discharges might be throat cancer signs.
Headaches - See a professional if you can't get rid of these throat cancer symptoms, though they could indicate everything from vision problems to TMJ syndrome.
Numbness - Another one of the symptoms of throat cancer, numbness manifests in the lower parts of the face.
Oropharyngeal Signs of Throat Cancer
The oropharynx is the middle part of your throat including the tongue base and tonsils. Throat cancer symptoms here include chronic sore throat, trouble swallowing, unexplained weight loss, ear pain, a change in voice, halitosis and lumps in the throat or neck. Or you might experience:
Chewing Pains - These also stem from TMJ, an abscessed tooth or a variety of other dental problems. See your dentist to determine the source.
Loose Teeth - An unexplained loosening needs to be seen by your dentist. Though one of the throat cancer signs, it might also signal tooth decay or periodontitis.
Patches, Sores or Thickenings - Swellings, toughened areas and white or red discolorations and sores toward the back of the mouth or tongue all point to symptoms of throat cancer, pre and non-cancerous leukoplakia or erythroplakia, abrasive dental work or ill-fitting dentures.
Speech Difficulties - Throat cancer symptoms involving speech affect the way you move your tongue. Or you could have a blockage in your throat.
Unusual Bleeding or Numbness - Unusual bleeding represents an oral thrush infection, gum disease, a loose tooth or signs of throat cancer. Numbness generally represents something happening with the nerves - like severe tooth decay or cancer moving deeper from your skin cells. Try to figure out what triggers the bleeding or numbness if you can and ask your dentist for a diagnosis.
Hypopharyngeal Throat Cancer Signs
Your hypopharynx is the very bottom of your throat, connecting to your esophagus. Cancer in this area may cause a lump in the neck, swallowing difficulties, sore throat, voice changes and ear pain, all of which are explained above.
Stopping Throat Cancer Symptoms
Because so many of these signs of throat cancer may be related to other conditions, it's difficult to diagnose yourself. Your best bet is to go to a doctor, dentist or oral surgeon for a professional opinion or biopsy. And if your possible symptoms of throat cancer have been around for a while, get help now to ensure a better throat cancer prognosis. Need assistance taking the first step?
Call us at 1-866-970-0441 and we'll find you a great dentist or oral surgeon in your area - one who can determine if you have throat cancer symptoms or other dental problems. We're here around the clock.