Throat Cancer - FAQ

Frequently asked questions

A: Endoscopy is a test where a flexible tube with a camera is inserted through the nose to inspect the throat. It can show lesions suspicious for cancer, which will need to be biopsied.

A: Throat cancer develops over years with tobacco and alcohol use. However, once it develops it can grow and spread quickly, so early diagnosis is key to survival.

A: Common symptoms of throat cancer include hoarseness, sore throat, blood stained sputum or a lump in throat sensation that lasts for longer than a month. Larger tumours can cause difficulty swallowing or breathing or loss of weight.

A: If you experience persistent symptoms such as a lump in the throat, a sore throat that does not go away, or changes or hoarseness in the voice, consult a doctor for advice. Only a medical specialist can confirm a diagnosis for throat cancer.

A: If your doctor or specialist suspects throat cancer, they may conduct a series of diagnostic tests that include:

  • Endoscopy
  • CT, MRI or PET scan
  • Biopsy

A: Researchers estimate that 70 – 80% of throat cancers are strongly linked to smoking. Smoking is the most important risk factor for throat cancers (especially laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma). If you smoke, you have a considerably increased chance of developing throat cancer compared to those who don't. The risk of throat cancer is further increased if you also frequently drink alcohol.

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