Throat Cancer Diagnosis & Detection
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Diagnosing Your Symptoms
Not every sore throat or change in voice quality is related to throat cancer. Doctors will look at your personal medical history to help determine the likelihood that the symptoms are related to cancer. These histories help identify high risk candidates for additional testing to find throat cancers early, when the disease is easier to treat.
If you are experiencing throat cancer symptoms and you are considered at risk for throat cancer, your doctor may recommend additional testing to accurately diagnose your condition. Although blood tests may provide valuable information about your overall health, it is not possible to diagnose throat cancer by a blood test alone. Other tests and procedures may be recommended to help diagnose your condition.
Common Procedures & Tests to Diagnose Throat Cancer
A panendoscopy is a procedure that uses a scope to examine the entire area surrounding your larynx and hypopharynx. Other parts of your nose, mouth and throat, including the trachea (windpipe) and esophagus, are also examined during this procedure. The doctor performing the procedure will look for any visible signs of a tumor. Doctors may use a special instrument through the scope to biopsy pieces of tissue that look potentially cancerous.
This procedure requires a general anesthetic, which means your doctor will likely order imaging tests prior to performing this surgery. For example, doctors may take a series of barium X-rays to determine how it looks when you swallow. Because both the larynx and hypopharynx are located deep inside the neck, surgery is often necessary to biopsy tissue.
Persistent coughing unrelated to colds or flu, difficulty swallowing, breathing or eating solid foods accompanied by unexplained weight loss are all serious symptoms that could indicate throat cancer. While these symptoms may or may not mean you have cancer, it is best to contact a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis of your condition.
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