6 Early Warning Signs of Throat Cancer That May Seem Like Common Symptoms of Flu

6 Early Warning Signs of Throat Cancer That May Seem Like Common Symptoms of Flu

It's these warning signals that when caught early, has the potential to save your life. So don't ignore them.

Source: In-house illustration

Many of us tend to forget to pause and check-in with our body and the many messages it sends us regularly. We ignore common symptoms in the hope that a pill will take care of it. While it is important to maintain a positive attitude toward our health, we should also ensure regular check-ups are done and no symptom is ignored.

Often, big concerns like throat cancer begin with common symptoms like a sore throat or coughing. The Mayo Clinic describes throat cancer as "cancerous tumors that develop in your throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) or tonsils." These cancerous cells can also affect your epiglottis, which is a cartilage that acts as a lid for your windpipe.


What are the types of throat cancer?

According to Medical News Today, there are three types:

1. Oropharyngeal cancer: It affects the mouth and the top part of the throat.

2. Hypopharyngeal cancer: It affects the lower part of the pharynx or throat.

3. Laryngeal cancer: It affects the larynx or voice box. 


Getty Images | Photo by Lars Neumann

What are the symptoms?

1. Sore throat and incessant coughing

These symptoms are also common with ailments such as the common cold, allergies, strep throat, dry air, or other irritants like smoke, according to Healthline. However, if you continue to have a sore throat and cough for a prolonged time, you need to check with the doctor as this is a common symptom of throat cancer. This symptom is usually one of the first signs of the disease, especially when the pain doesn't go away. In some cases, blood may also appear while coughing. 


2. Difficulty in swallowing

Though it is common to face difficulties while swallowing when you have the flu or a regular infection, if the food burns the passage or gets stuck as you swallow, you must check with the doctor. Ruling out any short-term issues such as irritation caused by spicy food or other infections is important. With throat cancer, even swallowing water can be painful. This could also lead to being unable to open your mouth fully or without pain. 


3. Unexplained weight loss

As is the case with most types of cancer, sudden weight loss without any external or dietary changes can point to the disease. Additionally, according to Medical News Today, this could also be linked to problems with swallowing food. 


Getty Images | Photo by Flashpop

4. Lump in the neck

Another symptom is the lymph nodes in your neck being enlarged or swollen. Though this occurs even during a common cold, if the node continues to grow or swell up, you need to visit a doctor as soon as you can. 


5. Nosebleeds and headaches

If you find yourself suffering from frequent nosebleeds and migraine-like headaches that extend from behind the eyes to the neck and shoulders, it could be a sign to check with the doc right away. This is a common symptom of oral or throat cancer. 

6. Change in voice

Your voice box is responsible for how you sound. But when cancer develops there, it can cause changes in your voice. According to Rogel Cancer Center, laryngeal cancers that form on the vocal cords (glottis) often cause scratchiness and hoarseness. This is often a symptom that can help you detect rather quickly that something, especially if this condition doesn't improve within two weeks. 


How common is throat cancer?

According to Cancer.org, In 2020, an estimated 53,260 new cases of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx (throat) will be diagnosed in the US and 10,750 people will die from the disease. According to their studies, this will affect men twice as much as women. However, with certain changes in your lifestyle, you can avoid being one of those numbers. 

What are the risk factors?

The risk factors include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, exposure to asbestos, poor dental hygiene and genetic syndromes, according to Healthline

Getty Images | Photo by krisanapong detraphiphat

How to prevent throat cancer?

Mayo Clinic suggests stopping or staying away from smoking, drinking alcohol only in moderation, having a diet full of fruits and vegetables, and keeping yourself protected from sexually transmitted diseases like HPV (human papillomavirus). 

It's important to get yourself checked when you start to see these symptoms as a doctor will be able to diagnose the symptoms right away. Avoid self-diagnosis or ignoring common symptoms associated with the flu etc.








Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.