Signs and Symptoms of Hypopharyngeal Cancer

In many cases, hypopharyngeal cancers get quite large before patients become aware of symptoms.

The most common symptom is increasing difficulty with swallowing, but many other symptoms can also be present:

  • Pain or difficulty with swallowing in the throat:This can occur because a tumour is in the way of swallowing, and so it becomes difficult or painful to swallow. Also, there can be ulceration and bleeding as the tumour grows, causing pain.
  • A lump in the neck:This will be a symptom of hypopharynx cancer if it has spread to lymph nodes in the neck. This can be the first symptom that brings a patient to the doctor. If you have a neck mass, and your doctor is concerned that it represents cancer that has spread from somewhere else, one of the first places he or she will look is your hypopharynx.
  • Ear pain (particularly on one side, with no other ear problems):Ear pain, also known as otalgia, happens because the nerves of the throat reach the brain through the same pathway as one of the nerves in the ear. Therefore, your brain might interpret a pain in the throat as coming from the ear. This is called referred pain. Consequently, unexplained ear pain that doesn’t go away should be evaluated by a specialist. It is important to understand that most causes of ear pain are due to simple problems such as middle ear infection or dysfunction of the Eustachian tube. TMJ pain due to a problem in the joint located in front of the ear may also present as otalgia.

Other possible symptoms might include:

  • A hoarse voice
  • Weight loss
  • Feeling like there’s something stuck in your throat
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Coughing every time, you drink liquids
  • Difficult or noisy breathing

But don’t jump to any conclusions. You could have one or more of these symptoms but NOT have hypopharyngeal cancer. There are several non-cancerous causes of the same symptoms. That’s why you need to see a specialist.