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Diagnosing & Treating Throat Cancer


Throat cancer refers to a group of cancers that start in various regions of the throat, including behind the nose, mouth, and larynx, and in the voice box. It’s a common type of head and neck cancer affecting over 13,000 people in the US, according to the American Cancer Society.

At Dignity Health, we provide personalized treatment to ensure that you get the high-quality care you deserve. To meet with a cancer care expert about throat cancer in the Bay Area, use our online tool and Find a Doctor at Dignity Health.

Throat Cancer Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of throat cancer depend on the location of the disease, and may include:

  • Difficulty swallowing or pain with swallowing
  • Trouble moving your tongue or fully opening your mouth
  • Chronic nasal congestion and stuffiness that may get worse over a period of time
  • Chronic sore throat or bad breath
  • Ear pain
  • Trouble breathing or noisy breathing
  • Lump or mass in the back of your mouth, neck, or throat
  • Hoarseness or voice changes
  • Unintended weight loss

These symptoms can often be signs of other noncancerous health problems. If your symptoms haven’t cleared up after several weeks, get a diagnosis at one of these Bay Area locations:

Throat Cancer Causes

The main risk factor for throat cancer is smoking and tobacco use, accounting for 85 percent of all head and neck cancer cases. Your risk goes up the more you smoke and the longer you smoke. Other causes of throat cancer include moderate use of alcohol and infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). Not all people with HPV develop cancer, but it’s a contributing factor.

You can lower your risk factors by:

  • Not smoking
  • Not using tobacco of any kind
  • Limiting how much alcohol you drink
  • Getting the HPV vaccine

Throat Cancer Treatment at Dignity Health

Treatment for throat cancer depends on the stage and specific location of the disease. Dignity Health doctors use surgery for most cases, along with radiation — with or without chemotherapy — and targeted therapies. 

Dignity Health oncologists provide complete care for throat cancer in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.