What is oropharyngeal cancer?
Oropharyngeal cancer is a disease in which cancer cells are found within the anatomical borders of the oropharynx. The majority of oropharyngeal cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, which are cancers arising from the surface cells of the throat.
What are the symptoms of oropharyngeal cancer?
The following may be signs of oropharyngeal cancer or of other conditions. See a doctor if any of the following symptoms are present:
- A sore throat that persists
- Pain or difficulty with swallowing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Voice changes
- Ear pain
- A lump in the back of the throat or mouth
- A lump in the neck
What are the risk factors for oropharyngeal cancer?
Risk factors for oropharyngeal cancer include the following:
- Use of alcohol
- Use of tobacco
- Being infected with the human papilloma virus (HPV), especially HPV-type-16/18 (HPV-16/18)
How is oropharyngeal cancer diagnosed?
A doctor can diagnose oropharyngeal cancer by examining the throat. The doctor will use a mirror and lights, and/or a fiberoptic scope, to look at the throat and will feel the neck for masses. If the doctor finds abnormal tissue, he or she will obtain a piece of tissue in a procedure called a biopsy. The tissue will be checked for cancer cells.