Signs and Symptoms of Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancers

Understand When It’s Time to See an ENT Doctor in Los Angeles


Signs and Symptoms of Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancers

Throat cancer is relatively uncommon compared to other kinds of cancer, but if you are in a risk factor group for developing this kind of cancer, you need to understand the signs. While it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to stop your cancer-causing activity, such as smoking or drinking, you can catch the symptoms early so that you can treat the problem while it’s still small.

Throat cancers include malignant cells forming in the voice box, the vocal cords, and other parts of the throat, such as the tonsils and oropharynx. These cancers can be very painful, as they can make swallowing and talking more difficult.

Our throat specialists in Los Angeles say that early detection is the best way to avoid complications or even a terminal diagnosis. The most common signs and symptoms of laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers are described in detail below.

Hoarseness or Voice Changes

Hoarseness or a scratchiness in your voice can be noticeable after a long night out or a presentation to a large group of people at work. If you can easily think of a cause for why there might be a change in your voice, then you shouldn’t be too alarmed if this pain goes away within a day or so.

However, voice changes that do not improve within 2 weeks may be cause for concern.

Laryngeal cancer can develop on the vocal cords, which results in a change to your voice that may sound like hoarseness or scratchiness. Hoarseness is one of the first signs of vocal cord cancer, so visiting an ENT specialist in Los Angeles can save you a lot of pain and money in the long run.

Especially if you are a smoker, having an ENT doctor in Los Angeles on hand can be very beneficial. Getting an exam every year can significantly prolong your life if you are a smoker.

For cancers that originate in the larynx, tonsils, or any area that’s not the vocal cords, hoarseness is a sign of late-stage cancer. Hoarseness is the most noticeable sign of throat cancer, and unfortunately, it’s a later sign of some forms.

Sore Throat

If you are experiencing a chronic sore throat, we recommend that you come by our office immediately. A sore throat is a typical side effect of allergies and post-nasal drip, but if it’s not accompanied by these symptoms, then it might be something to worry about.

A sore throat can develop after cancer starts to spread. If you need chemotherapy for head and neck cancer treatment in Los Angeles, our ENT doctors can recommend the best treatment plan.

Ear Pain

The ear, nose, and throat are closely connected. If a tumor or grouping of malignant cells are putting pressure on your jawline, sinuses, or nasal areas, it’s possible that this can translate to ear pain.

Nasopharyngeal cancer is part of the lymph nodes in the neck and it often blocks the eustachian tube, and this can result in a sensation of fullness or pain in the ears and hearing loss, particularly in one ear. This is due to fluid gathering in the middle ear.

Weight Loss

Having cancer in your head and neck can make it difficult to swallow, which may lead to the patient skipping meals or not finishing the meal that’s on their plate. In addition to the lifestyle change that comes with feeling ill, cancer can cause weight loss. Around 40% of people who have cancer experience weight loss, and 80% of people with advanced cancer lose weight as part of their symptoms.

About Westside Head & Neck

If you’re concerned you have cancer in your head or neck area, you can get a cancer screening at our office. We can test for cancer through a variety of methods, including:

  • A physical exam where a doctor checks your neck, throat, lymph nodes, mouth, and ear for lumps using their hands and eyes.
  • Endoscopy
  • Barium Swallow
  • Laboratory tests from your blood or urine.
  • X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs or PET scans
  • Biopsy

Serious conditions such as neck, mouth, and throat cancer can also be diagnosed and operated on by ENT specialists. Our office gladly accepts most PPO insurance plans, Medicare, and select HMO’s. We are also in-network with most insurance plans.

To set up an appointment to discuss your ENT issues with any of our physicians at either location, please call (310) 361-5128 or email appointments@westsidehn.com.


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Head & Neck Cancer


Head & Neck Cancer is a term used to describe a number of different malignant tumors that develop in or around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses, and mouth.

Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, meaning they begin in the flat, squamous cells that make up the thin surface layer of the structures in the head and neck. Directly beneath this lining, which is called the epithelium, some areas of the head and neck have a layer of moist tissue, called the mucosa. If a cancer is limited to the squamous layer of cells, it is called carcinoma in situ. If the cancer has grown beyond this cell layer and moved into the deeper tissue, then it is called invasive squamous cell carcinoma.

Types of Head & Neck Cancer

There are five main types of head and neck cancer, each named according to the part of the body where they develop.   For more information, including signs and symptoms about each different form of  head and neck cancers listed below, click on the links below to read more on Cancer.net.

Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer. The larynx is commonly called the voice box. It is a tube-shaped organ in the neck that is important for breathing, talking, and swallowing. It is located at the top of the windpipe, or trachea. The hypopharynx is also called the gullet. It is the lower part of the throat that surrounds the larynx.

Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer. The nasal cavity is the space just behind the nose where air passes on the way to the throat. The paranasal sinuses are the air-filled areas that surround the nasal cavity.

Nasopharyngeal Cancer. The nasopharynx is the air passageway at the upper part of the throat behind the nose.

Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancer. The oral cavity includes the mouth and tongue. The oropharynx includes the middle of the throat from the tonsils to the tip of the voice box.

Salivary Gland Cancer. The salivary gland is tissue that produces saliva, which is the fluid that is released into the mouth to keep it moist and that contains enzymes that begin breaking down food.

Information above provided by & approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board06/2014

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