Symptoms to watch out for

We've listed some of the symptoms of throat cancer below. If you have any of the symptoms and they last for three weeks or more without responding to medicine, make an appointment to see your doctor who will be able to look into them further. 

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WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS TO WATCH OUT FOR?

  • Sore throat / hoarse voice
  • Lump in the neck
  • Ear pain
  • Red / white patches in the throat
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Stiff jaw
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth or throat
  • Loose teeth
  • Constant bad breath
  • Ulcers in the mouth which do not heal

Please remember that having these symptoms does not mean you have cancer - there are a number of other common causes for them such as illness or infection. 

WHO SHOULD I SEE ABOUT MY SYMPTOMS? 

Usually, your initial contact should be with your GP or family doctor. They will ask you about your symptoms and general health and will, if necessary, do some investigation of your ear, nose, throat and lymph glands.

Your doctor is likely to ask you questions such as how long you have had the symptom(s), whether you have taken any medication for them, and whether this had any effect.

You may also be asked questions about your lifestyle such as whether you smoke or drink, if you are sexually active, and what it is you do for work. Although it can be uncomfortable answering personal questions, it is important to be completely honest with your doctor or health professional as the more information they have the easier it is for them to make an accurate diagnosis, even if it may seem minor or irrelevant to you.

Your GP may opt to treat you with medicine such as antibiotics or steroids, or ask you to see if the symptoms stop or develop further. This is not unusual as many illnesses and infections share the same symptoms as cancer so your GP may want to see if they go away on their own or with medication.

If symptoms persist and do not improve with any prescribed treatment then you should make another appointment and your GP will investigate further. 

WHAT IF I'M REFERRED TO A SPECIALIST?

If your doctor wants to investigate anything further they may refer you to a specialist at a hospital. The specialist may then do further tests to get an accurate diagnosis of the problem, if any. 

Again, it is important to remember that being referred does not mean you have cancer as there are many other things that may be causing the symptoms.

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