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Throat Cancer Symptoms

One of the throat cancer symptoms with cancer of the vocal cords (larynx cancer) being about 2/3 of all throat cancer cases in the US is voice changes fairly early on. Later there may be a feeling of a lump in the neck. There may be problems swallowing. There can be a cough, trouble breathing and later with neck metastases the patient may complain about ear aches.

If this is not due to a cold and does not resolve within a few weeks, this person needs an urgent laryngeal examination by an ENT specialist. Contrary to larynx cancer, subglottic and supraglottic cancer is mostly detected late, namely when the cancer has metastasized into the cervical lymph glands.

This is one major reason why these cancers, which are usually detected at a later stage, lead to poorer cancer survival statistics. Late signs of throat cancer are weight loss and metastases to other areas.

The cancer tends to metastasize to the base of the tongue, to the tissues around, above and below the vocal cord area.

The thyroid cartilage can get invaded, and the esophagus in the back can get obstructed through an extensive tumor mass in the later stages of the cancer.



1. Cancer: Principles &Practice of Oncology.4th edition. Edited by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott, Philadelphia,PA, 1993. Chapter on Tumors of the Larynx and Hypopharynx.

2. Cancer: Principles&Practice of Oncology. 5th edition, volume 1. Edited by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott-Raven Publ., Philadelphia,PA, 1997. Chapter on Tumors of the Larynx and Hypopharynx.

3. SM Jackson et al. Radiother Oncol 2001 May;59(2):219-220.

4. Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

5. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc

Last modified: October 21, 2014

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.