What is the Connection Between a Sore Throat and Cancer?

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  • Written By: Sandy Baker
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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In most cases, a sore throat and cancer do not have anything to do with each other. In some situations, however, a chronic sore throat or cough that is persistent can be a symptom of cancer of the throat. Pain, a change in voice, and difficulty swallowing may also accompany the sore throat, and could be indications of a serious condition, including cancer.

It is more common that a sore throat and cancer are not connected rather than that they are related. A sore throat that does not appear to be associated with any specific illness may be significant, as may a sore throat with no fever. Fatigue and a sore throat often have no direct relation to cancer, since fatigue is a common side effect of many illnesses.

A sore throat with no fever may or may not be cancerous, since abrasions in the throat may cause the pain. When accompanied by a rash, a sore throat may be an indication of an allergy. A sore throat at night may be an indication of dry air rather than cancer.

When associated with cancer, a sore throat occurs due to the swelling and inflammation of the tissues that line the throat. Cancer can occur in these tissues for a number of reasons, including smoking or the ingestion of toxins. If cancer is found during routine treatment for a sore throat, it can be a life-saving discovery.


When considering the relationship between a sore throat and cancer, consider if any additional cancer symptoms are present. Individuals with a serious illness may have difficulty breathing. Other symptoms of throat cancer include pain in the upper teeth, pain in the ears, and headaches. Nose bleeds, difficulty speaking, and swelling in the eyes can also occur. Chronic sinus infections that are persistent even with antibiotics may be a symptom.

Some people may experience more significant pain and discomfort that distinguishes sore throat and cancer symptoms. A paralysis of facial muscles or pain in the face that is persistent could be a significant indication. Also, neck pain that does not improve over time, accompanied by a sore throat, could be a sign of cancer.

Individuals who experience an ongoing sore throat and have a history of cancer should consult a doctor as soon as symptoms appear. In others, progressively worsening symptoms or symptoms that persist for more than two to three weeks should be brought to the attention of the doctor. These may or may not be indications of a cancerous occurrence in the throat. A doctor should be able to determine the cause and prescribe an appropriate treatment.


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