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How To Check For Throat Cancer At Home 2024: Diagnosis & Treatment

Andrew Robert Shassetz

Reviewed by Dr. Drew Sutton, MD
how to check for throat cancer at home
Throat cancer self-checks should be supplemental to regular professional healthcare consultations. Photo: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

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Understanding your body and its normal state can contribute to detecting abnormalities early, such as throat cancer, a subset of head and neck cancers that affects older adults predominantly[1].

In addition, implementing self-checks at home aids in recognizing any unusual changes, prompting timely medical intervention, and resulting in better treatment outcomes.

This also highlights the importance of awareness about general throat health, from understanding the best CBD for GERD to learning how to get rid of tonsil stones and even appreciating the benefits of apple cider vinegar.

However, it’s crucial to remember that self-checks should be supplemental to regular professional healthcare consultations. So it is best to embrace a proactive approach to your health, stay informed, and seek medical advice when necessary.

How To Check For Throat Cancer At Home?

  • Neck Lump
  • Ear Pain
  • Voice Changes
  • Breathing Changes and Difficulty

How To Check For Throat Cancer At Home? 

While various conditions can cause these symptoms, staying vigilant can help identify potential issues. Here’s a guide on how to check for throat cancer at home:

Neck Lump

how to check for throat cancer at home
Consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation when you notice a painless lump that persists for several weeks. Photo: metamorworks/Shutterstock

Throat cancer can sometimes manifest as a lump or swelling in the neck. Take a peaceful moment to feel the sides and front of your neck, including the areas beneath your jaw and around your collarbones.

If you notice a painless lump that persists for several weeks, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation. Remember, neck lumps can also arise from other possible causes like swollen lymph nodes or benign growths.

Ear Pain

how to check for throat cancer at home
Pay attention to any unexplained and persistent ear pain. Photo: aleks333/Shutterstock

Throat cancer may cause referred pain in the ears. Pay attention to any unexplained and persistent ear pain or discomfort that doesn’t seem to be related to an ear infection or other obvious causes.

If you experience prolonged ear pain accompanied by other worrisome symptoms, it’s advisable to seek medical attention to rule out any potential issues.

Voice Changes

Throat cancer can impact vocal cords, resulting in voice changes. Be attentive to unexplained hoarseness, persistent voice alterations, or a lingering raspy quality that lasts beyond a few weeks.

It’s best to consult a healthcare professional for an evaluation if you notice such changes that don’t resolve independently.

Breathing Changes And Difficulty

Throat cancer can occasionally lead to breathing difficulties or changes in your breathing patterns. Pay close attention to symptoms such as shortness of breath, persistent wheezing, or a feeling of tightness in your throat that hampers your ability to breathe comfortably.

If you experience significant breathing difficulties, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial.

What Is Throat Cancer?

Throat cancer, a subset of head and neck cancers, involves the abnormal growth of cancer cells[2] in the throat. Recognizing the early signs and taking prompt action can significantly impact the prognosis and enhance treatment outcomes.

Head and neck cancers, including throat cancer, account for around 4% of all cancers in the United States, as the American Cancer Society[3] reported. Throat cancers primarily affect the throat, tonsils, or voice box (larynx) and are more prevalent among older adults. In addition, it is often associated with risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use.

Benefits Of Checking For Throat Cancer At Home 

While self-checks cannot replace a medical diagnosis and should always be followed up with a healthcare provider, here are a few advantages of checking for throat cancer at home:

Early Detection

Regular self-checks can help catch throat cancer in its early stages. Detecting cancer early significantly improves treatment outcomes and increases the chances of successful recovery.

Familiarity With Your Body

By performing self-checks, you become more familiar with the normal condition of your throat. This familiarity enables you to better recognize any changes or abnormalities, leading you to seek prompt medical attention if you notice any concerning symptoms.

Empowerment And Proactive Approach

Engaging in self-checks empowers individuals to participate in their health actively. In addition, it encourages a proactive approach to identifying potential issues and seeking appropriate medical attention when necessary.

Knowledge Of Risk Factors And Symptoms 

Educating yourself about throat cancer’s risk factors and common symptoms enables you to make informed decisions about your health. This knowledge also prompts you to discuss any concerns with a healthcare professional.

Peace Of mind

Even if they don’t detect abnormalities, regular self-checks provide peace of mind and reduce anxiety about potential health concerns.

When To See A Doctor

If you notice persistent or worsening symptoms, or if your symptoms don’t improve after a few weeks, it’s advisable to consult a doctor. This is especially important if you have high-risk factors or as part of your regular check-ups. You can receive a thorough evaluation, an accurate diagnosis, and appropriate guidance for further evaluation or treatment by seeking medical attention.

Throat cancer represents approximately 2% of all newly diagnosed cancer cases yearly.

These statistics emphasize the significance of seeking medical attention if you encounter any troubling symptoms or have risk factors associated with throat cancer.

Detecting the condition early and taking prompt action can greatly enhance treatment outcomes and overall prognosis.


Head and neck cancer, including throat cancer, is a complex and serious condition that requires medical attention. Treatment options such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy aim to kill cancer cells, shrink tumors, and prevent cancer spread.

Early detection and timely intervention are crucial for better treatment outcomes and improved survival rates.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is head and neck cancer?

Head and neck cancer encompasses a variety of malignancies that may affect different areas in the head and neck region. These include the mouth, throat, nose, sinuses, and salivary glands. It’s a complex group of cancers due to this area’s diverse structures and tissues.

How is head and neck cancer treated?

The treatment strategies for head and neck cancer are contingent on numerous factors, such as the specific type, stage, and location of the cancer. However, common treatment modalities include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. The overarching aim is to eliminate cancer cells, reduce tumor size, and prevent cancer’s spread.

What about throat cancer?

Throat cancer, also known as pharyngeal cancer, is a type of head and neck cancer that predominantly occurs in the throat, specifically the pharynx and larynx. It can disrupt normal function in the voice box and tonsils.

How do they treat throat cancer?

Several treatment options exist for throat cancer. Depending on the patient’s overall health, and the tumor’s stage, size, and location, physicians might opt for surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or a mix of these approaches.

How do these treatments eliminate cancer cells?

The treatments employed for cancer, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy, are designed to eradicate cancer cells. 
Surgery involves excising the tumor, while radiation therapy  uses high-energy radiation or medicinal drugs to eliminate cancer cells. Chemotherapy uses medications and is usually done in combination with radiation therapy.
Targeted therapy and immunotherapy focus on particular molecules or stimulating the immune system to combat cancer cells. Most of these treatments are new or experimental.

What are the typical signs of neck cancer?

Symptoms of neck cancer may include a noticeable lump or swelling in the neck, persistent neck pain, difficulty swallowing, voice changes, sudden weight loss, or unrelenting ear pain. If these symptoms persist, it is advisable to consult a physician for a comprehensive check-up and diagnosis.

Can they cure throat cancer?

The prognosis for throat cancer depends on its diagnosis stage, treatment time, and individual health considerations. Early detection and immediate treatment substantially enhance the likelihood of a cure. However, as every patient’s circumstance is unique, maintaining regular medical care and monitoring is essential. Head and neck cancer can come back even after successful surgery or other treatment.

What’s the survival rate like for throat cancer?

The survival rate for throat cancer hinges on the cancer stage and individual health variables. For example, The American Cancer Society[4] cites an approximate 84% 5-year relative survival rate for localized throat cancer. This rate diminishes to around 39% if the cancer has metastasized extensively. Early detection and swift treatment are crucial to improving survival odds.

+ 4 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Maggiore, R.J., Zumsteg, Z.S., Karlynn BrintzenhofeSzoc, Trevino, K.M., Ajeet Gajra, Korc-Grodzicki, B., Epstein, J.B., Bond, S.M., Parker, I.R., Kish, J.A., Murphy, B.A. and VanderWalde, N.A. (2017). The Older Adult With Locoregionally Advanced Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Knowledge Gaps and Future Direction in Assessment and Treatment. [online] 98(4), pp.868–883. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2017.02.022.
  2. National Cancer Institute. (2021). Head and Neck Cancers. [online] Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/head-neck-fact-sheet.
  3. Cancer.org. (2022). Cancer Facts & Figures 2022| American Cancer Society. [online] Available at: https://www.cancer.org/research/cancer-facts-statistics/all-cancer-facts-figures/cancer-facts-figures-2022.html.
  4. Cancer.org. (2018). Voice Box Cancer Survival Rate | Throat Cancer Survival Rate. [online] Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/laryngeal-and-hypopharyngeal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html.


Andrew, a seasoned health coach and nutrition consultant, combines his expertise in traditional naturopathy and functional medicine with exceptional writing skills. Following a significant life change due to a car accident, he transitioned to freelance writing,… See More