Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 1/2013
Symptoms and Signs


ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. To see other pages in this guide, use the colored boxes on the right side of your screen, or click “Next” at the bottom.

People with laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer. If you are concerned about a symptom or sign on this list, please talk with your doctor.

  • Hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away within two weeks (often an early symptom)
  • An enlarged lymph node or a lump in the neck
  • Airway obstruction, difficulty breathing, and noisy breathing
  • Persistent sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing that does not go away
  • Ear pain
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Choking
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue

People who notice any of these symptoms or signs should talk with a doctor and/or dentist, especially if they don’t go away or get worse. Your doctor will ask you questions about the symptoms you are experiencing to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis. This may include how long you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s) and how often.

Because many of these symptoms can also be caused by other noncancerous health conditions, it is always important to receive regular health and dental screenings, especially for those who routinely drink alcohol or use tobacco products or have used them in the past.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms and side effects remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms. When detected early, laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer can often be treated successfully while preserving the function of the larynx and/or hypopharynx.

Choose “Next” (below, right) to continue reading this guide to learn about what tests and scans you may have to learn more about the cause of your symptoms. Or, use the colored boxes located on the right side of your screen to visit any section.

Last Updated: 
Thursday, March 28, 2013

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