By: Dr. Stefanie Horne, MD
Southwest Ohio ENT Specialists
Mass or lump in the neck: Head and neck cancer starts in the lining of the mouth or throat. Sometimes the “primary tumor” (i.e. where the cancer started) is very small and the first thing that is noticeable to the patient is an enlarged lymph node in the neck. This can be a mildly enlarged lymph node or a large neck mass.
Difficulty swallowing, pain with swallowing or weight loss: Tumors in the mouth or throat cause raw areas and/or obstruction that can affect eating and swallowing. Sometimes this is a gradual process which can lead to slow weight loss over time that is not intentional.
Pain in the throat that does not resolve: Most non-cancerous causes of throat pain resolve within several weeks. Prolonged pain is not normal and should be evaluated by your ENT doctor. All board certified ENT doctors (Otolaryngologists) are specialists in head and neck cancer.
Sores in the mouth or throat that do not resolve: Open wounds or sores in the mouth should heal within 2-3 weeks. If you have an open sore in the mouth or on the tongue that persists, you should be evaluated by your ENT.
Difficulty breathing or talking: Changes in the voice that do not resolve can be an indication of laryngeal (voice box) cancer. Sometimes tumors can grow until they block the pathway for breathing. This can cause noisy breathing (stridor), shortness of breath with exertion, or difficulty breathing when lying down.
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