Hoarseness or changes in the voice that persist for longer than three weeks, trouble swallowing or sore throat that lasts for longer than six weeks and a lump in the neck are all symptoms of throat cancer, explains MedicineNet. Other symptoms include persistent earache or cough and trouble breathing and unexplained weight loss.
To make a definitive diagnosis of throat cancer, a doctor performs a physical exam and feels for swelling, lumps and other issues in the throat, notes MedicineNet. The doctor may perform a laryngoscopy using a small mirror to look down the throat to determine if the vocal cords are functioning normally. A doctor may also use a special tube to collect a tissue sample to send to a lab for a biopsy.
After a diagnosis of throat cancer, chest X-rays, CT scans and other studies can determine if the cancer has spread to other areas, according to MedicineNet. Doctors then determine the stage of the cancer and establish a treatment plan. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are treatment options for throat cancer, either as single treatments or in combination with one another. The treatment recommended depends on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis, the cancer’s location and the person’s general overall health.