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Female patient getting an examination for throat cancer

Diagnosis strategies for oral cavity and throat cancer vary depending on the region of the head and neck where the cancer originates. However, there are some common approaches for identifying cancers in this area of the body. For instance, physicians will usually evaluate a patient’s medical history and perform a physical examination, and if the risk factors and symptoms suggest a potential illness, he or she may order diagnostic tests. 

The following are some ways that the diagnostic strategies for oral cavity and throat cancers differ, depending on where the cancer originates:

  • Oral cavity and oropharynx – A doctor or dentist will examine the mouth and throat, checking for abnormalities. Because of the complexity of this region of the body, tests such as a CT scan or MRI may be ordered to better determine whether a hidden tumor is present.
  • Larynx and hypopharynx – A physician may use a fiber-optic laryngoscope (a thin, flexible, lighted tube) to carefully examine the larynx and the tissues that surround it (hypopharynx). Because patients with cancer in this region are at greater risk of developing other head and neck cancers, a physician may also carefully examine the nasopharynx (the part of the throat behind the nose), mouth, tongue and neck. 

If abnormalities are discovered during these exams, a biopsy of the area may be performed so that the affected tissue can be examined under a microscope. If the abnormality is in the throat, a thin, hollow needle may be inserted (fine needle aspiration) to retrieve the cells for examination. This biopsy can be done with topical anesthesia while the patient is awake.

Moffitt Cancer Center is one of the country’s premier cancer facilities, providing the most reliable diagnoses for all types of oral cavity and throat cancer, as well as the most advanced treatment options available anywhere. Each patient’s case is assessed on an individual basis by our collaborative, multispecialty tumor board, which develops a treatment plan tailored to the specific dynamics of the patient’s condition. While in the care of our Head and Neck Oncology Program, each patient receives the compassionate attention and comprehensive treatment that he or she deserves.

No referral is needed to discuss your oral cavity and throat cancer diagnosis concerns or questions with Moffitt Cancer Center’s highly specialized oncologists. Call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out our new patient registration form today.