Some of the world's leading throat cancer experts focus extraordinary expertise on each patient. Your care is carefully planned to address your needs and to ensure you receive the most advanced treatment with the least impact on your body.
We have developed approaches that have enabled thousands of patients with throat cancer to avoid radical surgery and enjoy a better quality of life, treating the cancer while saving the ability to speak and swallow.
We take a team approach to throat cancer care, providing comprehensive, yet highly specialized, treatment. Your personal team of experts may include oncologists; surgeons and plastic surgeons; radiation oncologists; dentists; speech pathologists and swallowing experts; dietitians; and physical, occupational and speech therapists.
Patients with throat cancer benefit from one of the most active research programs in the United States, which includes a prestigious federally funded head and neck SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence). This means we are able to offer a wide range of clinical trials (research studies) for various types and stages of disease.
Symptoms of throat cancer vary from person to person. They may include:
These symptoms do not always mean you have throat cancer. However, it is important to discuss any symptoms with your doctor, since they may signal other health problems.
It's important for throat cancer to be diagnosed as early and accurately as possible. This helps increase your chances for successful treatment and keeping the maximum ability to speak and swallow.
If you have symptoms that may signal throat cancer, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions about your health; your lifestyle, including smoking and drinking habits; your sexual history; and your family medical history.
The tests used to diagnose throat cancer and find out if it has spread depend on the type of cancer. Tests also may be used to find out if treatment has damaged other tissues or organs. One or more of the following tests may be used.
Different methods are used to obtain tissue for a biopsy, depending on where the tumor is located.
Conventional incisional biopsy: This is the traditional, most frequently used type of biopsy. The doctor surgically removes part or all of the tissue where cancer is suspected.
Fine-needle-aspiration biopsy (FNA): This type of biopsy may be used if you have a lump in your neck that can be felt. A thin needle is inserted into the area, and then cells are withdrawn and examined under a microscope.
Endoscopy: An endoscope (a long, thin tube with a light and lens through which the doctor can view organs and tissue) is inserted through the mouth, nose or an incision. The endoscope has a tool to remove tissue samples.
Imaging tests, which may include:
Barium swallow: Also called an upper GI (gastrointestinal) series, this set of X-rays of the esophagus and stomach may be used to look for cancer and find out how well you swallow.
Laryngeal videostroboscopy, which lets the doctor look at the larynx and see how well you swallow.
Fiberoptic endoscopic examination of swallowing (FEES): A small, flexible endoscope is inserted through the nose, allowing the doctor to examine swallowing.
We tailor your care to include advanced therapies that give you the highest chance for successful treatment while keeping the ability to eat, speak and live a normal, healthy life.
Innovative treatments include minimally invasive surgical techniques, new radiation treatment approaches and targeted therapies that help your body fight the cancer.
Because throat cancer and its treatment often affect breathing, hearing, talking and appearance, we make sure every patient receives full rehabilitation support, including occupational, physical and speech therapy, and/or reconstructive surgery. Dental experts design and place highly specialized implants. Surgeons and oncologists work closely with experts in the Section of Speech Pathology and Audiology who have special expertise in restoring speech and swallowing after throat surgery.
Cancer screening exams are important medical tests done when you're at risk but don't have symptoms. They help find cancer at its earliest stage, when the chances for successful treatment are highest.
Anything that increases your chance of getting throat cancer is a risk factor. People who smoke, especially those who drink alcohol, are at the most at risk for developing throat cancer.
Another risk factor for oropharynx cancer is infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), which is spread through sexual contact, particularly oral sex.
Other risk factors include: