There are two main types of throat cancer – pharyngeal cancer and laryngeal cancer. Pharyngeal cancer forms in the pharynx, the hollow tube that runs from behind your nose to the top of your windpipe. Sub-types of pharyngeal cancer include nasopharynx cancer (upper part of the throat), oropharynx cancer (middle part of the throat), and hypopharynx cancer (bottom part of the throat). Laryngeal cancer forms in the larynx, which is your voice box. Throat cancer is relatively uncommon compared to other types of cancer.

Throat Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis

Throat cancer symptoms may not be noticed until the disease is advanced. However, symptoms include:

  • A persistent sore throat or cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • A lump in the neck or throat
  • An increasingly hoarse voice
Diagnostic tests for throat cancer include:
  • Nasendoscopy – A small, flexible tube with a video camera at one end is inserted into one of your nostrils and passed your throat to get images of your larynx.
  • Laryngoscopy – A small, flexible tube with a video camera at one end is inserted through the mouth. This allows the larynx to be seen in greater detail than with nasendoscopy, but it can be very uncomfortable.
  • Biopsy – During endoscopy, a sample of tissue may be collected, then viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to look for cancer cells.
  • Imaging tests – such as

Throat Cancer Treatment

The specific throat cancer treatment you receive will depend on the stage of your throat cancer and other circumstances. However, it may include:

  • Head and neck surgery – surgery to remove the cancerous tissue
  • Medical oncology – use of chemotherapy or other drugs to kill the cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy – use of radiation to kill cancerous cells or a solid tumor
  • Combination therapy - use of multiple techniques to destroy the cancer cells and or tumor

Learn More

Our multidisciplinary team provides expert care and post-treatment rehabilitation for cancers of the nasal cavity, oral cavity, salivary glands, sinuses, throat and voice box.

Head and Neck Cancer Program