Throat cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the throat. The throat is a 5-6 inch long, tube-shaped organ that starts behind your nose and ends in your neck.

Your throat is made up of two main parts: the pharynx and the larynx. The pharynx is the upper part of your throat. It’s about 3 inches long and includes your tonsils. The larynx, or voice box, is the lower part of your throat. It’s about 2-3 inches long and contains your vocal cords. Cancer can develop in any part of your throat, but it’s most common in the larynx.

Throat cancer is also called laryngeal cancer or cancer of the larynx. Throat cancer is relatively rare, accounting for about 3 percent of all cancers in the United States. But it’s one of the most common cancers in men, particularly those over age 55. It’s also more common in African-American men than white men.

Throat Cancer

Throat cancer is a type of cancer that affects the throat, voice box, and tonsils. The most common type of throat cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, which begins in the flat cells lining the inside of the throat. Throat cancer can also affect the salivary glands, lymph nodes, and blood vessels in the neck.

Symptoms of throat cancer may include a persistent sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, a lump in the neck, or ear pain. Throat cancer is often diagnosed at an early stage through a physical examination or biopsy. However, some people may not experience any symptoms until the cancer is more advanced.

Throat cancer is caused by exposure to certain risk factors, such as tobacco use (including cigarettes, cigars, and chew), excessive alcohol consumption, HPV infection, and radiation therapy for other cancers. People with a family history of throat cancer are also at increased risk.

There are several ways to prevent throat cancer, including avoiding tobacco products and excessive alcohol consumption, getting vaccinated against HPV, and eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of developing throat cancer.

Types of throat cancer

There are two main types of throat cancer:

1. Pharyngeal cancer: Pharyngeal cancer starts in the pharynx, which is the hollow, tube-like structure that starts behind the nose and goes down to the esophagus. This type of cancer can be further divided into three subtypes:

-Oropharyngeal cancer: Oropharyngeal cancer starts in the back of the mouth or tongue.

-Nasopharyngeal cancer: Nasopharyngeal cancer starts in the nasopharynx, which is the upper part of the pharynx behind the nose.

-Hypopharyngeal cancer: Hypopharyngeal cancer starts in the hypopharynx, which is the lower part of the pharynx.

2. Laryngeal cancer: Laryngeal cancer starts in the larynx, which is also known as the voice box. The larynx contains your vocal cords, which are two bands of muscle that vibrate when you speak. This type of cancer can be further divided into two subtypes:

-Glottic cancer: Glottic cancer starts in the glottis, which is the opening between your vocal cords.

-Supraglotticcancer: Supraglotticcancer starts above your vocal cords in any part of your larynx except for your glottis.

Symptoms of throat cancer can include:

-A sore throat that does not go away

-Pain or difficulty swallowing

-Hoarseness or change in voice

-Persistent cough

-Weight loss


-Bleeding from the mouth or nose

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Throat cancer is often diagnosed at an early stage through a physical examination and imaging tests.

When to see a doctor for throat cancer

If you have any symptoms of throat cancer, it’s important to see a doctor right away. Many of the early signs of throat cancer are the same as those for other conditions, so it’s important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible.

Some of the most common symptoms of throat cancer include:

-A persistent sore throat

-Difficulty swallowing

-Painful swallowing

-Hoarseness or changes in your voice

-A lump in your neck or throat

-Persistent cough


-Blood in your saliva or phlegm

Causes of throat cancer

The main cause of throat cancer is infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a group of viruses that can infect the skin and mucous membranes. Some types of HPV are called “high-risk” because they are linked to cancer. HPV is spread through sexual contact, so it is important to practice safe sex and limit the number of sexual partners you have.

Other risk factors for throat cancer include:

-Tobacco use: Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes increases your risk for throat cancer. The risk is even higher if you also drink alcohol.

-Exposure to certain chemicals: People who work with certain chemicals, such as asbestos or formaldehyde, have an increased risk for throat cancer.

-Family history: If you have a family member with throat cancer, you may be at increased risk for the disease.

Risk factors for developing throat cancer

There are many different risk factors for developing throat cancer. Some of these include:

-Tobacco use: This is by far the most important risk factor for developing throat cancer. Those who use tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc.) are much more likely to develop the disease than those who do not.

-Excessive alcohol consumption: Those who drink excessive amounts of alcohol are also at an increased risk for developing throat cancer.

-Certain viral infections: There are certain viruses that can increase your risk for developing throat cancer, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV).

-Diet: A diet low in fruits and vegetables and high in processed meats has been linked with an increased risk for developing throat cancer.

-Exposure to certain chemicals: Certain chemicals, such as asbestos, can also increase your risk for developing the disease.

Prevention of throat cancer

Prevention of throat cancer is possible by avoiding risk factors and by early detection and treatment of precancerous lesions.

Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for throat cancer, and quitting smoking or using tobacco products can greatly reduce the risk of developing this cancer. Other measures that may help to prevent throat cancer include eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol consumption, and protecting the head and neck from ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure.

People who are at high risk for developing throat cancer may be advised to undergo regular screenings, which may involve examinations of the mouth, throat, and larynx as well as imaging tests such as x-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans. Screening can help to find precancerous lesions so that they can be treated before they turn into cancer.


Throat cancer is a serious condition that can have a major impact on your quality of life. However, it is important to remember that throat cancer is highly treatable, especially when caught early. If you think you may be at risk for throat cancer, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible. And, if you are diagnosed with throat cancer, know that there are many treatment options available that can help you manage the condition and improve your quality of life.

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