Symptoms of tonsil cancer include tonsils of unequal size, a persistent sore in the back of the mouth, pain in the mouth, a sore throat that does not go away, bloody saliva and an aversion to citrus, as stated by Cedars-Sinai. Patients may also have difficulty speaking or chewing.
Other possible tonsil cancer symptoms include foul breath, pain when swallowing, intense ear pain, neck pain and a lump in the neck, according to Cedars-Sinai. Asymmetrical tonsils are the illness' primary symptom, while ear pain and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck tend to occur in the later stages, according to MD Anderson Cancer Center. When a cyst develops in adult tonsil cancer patients, it often signals that the cancer has metastasized. Many symptoms of tonsil cancer mimic those of strep throat, but cancer becomes more likely in patients over age 50, as stated by About.com.
Men are about three to four times more likely to get tonsil cancer than women, and tobacco and alcohol users are at an increased risk of developing the disease, according to Cedars-Sinai. Tonsil cancer is typically diagnosed by an otolaryngologist. The doctor performs a visual examination of the mouth, throat, ears and neck and may also order blood tests, fine-needle aspiration biopsy and x-rays to check for malignancy or metastasis. Once a tumor is detected, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography and computerized tomography may also be used for a more thorough diagnosis.