Frequently Asked Questions

Below you'll find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding head and neck cancers. If there are any questions that you feel we should answer that are not already covered here, please let us know here.

The details on these pages are for general information and advise only. For accurate and up-to-date information, be sure to ask your medical professionals.

  • What is throat cancer?

    Throat cancer is used to describe a number of different cancers which can affect the throat. There is a list here of types of cancer which can be considered throat cancer.

  • What causes throat cancer?

    There are a number of risk factors which can cause throat cancer. The two biggest causes are tobacco and alcohol - these can be very damaging for the throat and cause the most cases of throat cancer in the world. Another cause is HPV - HPV is the Human Papillomavirus and it is thought to cause an increasing number of cases of throat cancer. You can access more information about HPV here.

  • What are the symptoms of throat cancer?

    There are several symptoms to look out for:

    • sore throat/hoarse voice

    • lump in the neck

    • red/white patches in the throat

    • difficulty swallowing

    • unusual weight loss

    • stiff/difficult to move jaw

    • unexplained bleeding in the mouth

    • loose teeth

    • bad breath

    • ulcers in the mouth which do not heal 

      As you can see these are some quite common things and they can be caused by many things which are not cancer. If symptoms last for a long time (more than 3 weeks) and are not improving you should make an appointment to see your GP and get checked out.

  • What is the treatment for throat cancer?

    This varies from patient to patient and depends on the kind of cancer, it's location and stage. It also depends on the resources available at the hospital.

    Surgery, Radiotherapy and Chemotherapy can all play a part in treatment. Some patients will require all three modes of treatment. 

  • Who can get throat cancer?

    Throat cancer is more common among males but it can affect all people, of all ages. The average age for a patient is over 60 but increasing numbers are getting throat cancer younger. Experts believe HPV is the reason.

  • What is HPV?

    HPV, or Human Papillomavirus, is an infection which lives in the skin and is extremely contagious. 80% of people will have had an HPV infection by the time they reach middle age. For the majority of people they will have little or no symptoms. For some people HPV can develop into cancer: throat, anal, vaginal, cervical and vulval cancers can all be caused by HPV. More information is available here.

  • What is Gender Neutral HPV Vaccination?

    This means that vaccination to protect against HPV is given to all regardless of their gender. At the moment the HPV vaccination is only given to girls in the UK and leading cancer experts have advised that the programme should be expanded to include males. More information is available here about our experts call for HPV vaccination.

  • Who are the Throat Cancer Foundation?

    We are a UK based charity dedicated to the prevention and cure of cancers which affect the throat. We have set some clear goals for our charity, namely to:

    • raise awareness of throat cancer and it's blight on society.
    • empower patients to ensure they are getting the most appropriate and effective treatment.
    • campaign for a 'Gold Standard of Care' for all patients.
    • fund and support research and clinical trials to advance the treatment and prevention of throat cancer.
    • lobby governments to protect all their citizens with a gender neutral HPV vaccination programme.


There are several different types of cancer which can affect the throat, mouth, neck and chest.

Find out more

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