Tonsil Cancer

What is Tonsil Cancer?

There are three types of tonsils in the throat and tonsil cancer can occur in any one of them.  The palatine tonsils – the ones that are at the sides of the throat – are the most common place for tonsil cancer.  The other areas are the pharyngeal tonsils (adenoids) and the lingual tonsils (back of tongue).

Tonsil cancers are usually squamous cell carcinomas but they can also be a lymphoma. Smoking and alcohol are two of the major risk factors.

What are the Symptoms of Tonsil Cancer?

One of the main symptoms of tonsil cancer is a sore that occurs at the back of the throat and will not heal.  Having one tonsil bigger than another can also be a sign.  It can be painful or not painful.

If you have tonsil cancer you may have bad breath, bleeding, or an altered taste. A major cancer can cause problems with breathing, eating, talking, or opening the mouth.

Tonsil Cancer Causes

Tonsil cancer has many causes depending on the person.

The following are some of the causes that can be highlighted:

  • When a patient suffers from tonsil stones they become susceptible to the human papillomavirus. This results in continues swelling due to tonsil carcinoma HPV and then tonsil cancer.
  • Habitual smoking can be dangerous to the smoker as it results in susceptibility to tonsil diffuse epithelium, causing tonsil cancer.
  • People who consume alcohol are more likely to suffer from tonsil cancer than those who do not consume it.
  • Tonsils have cells called squamous cell carcinoma which is known to be responsible for the presence of tonsil cancer.

How is Tonsil Cancer Treated?

Tonsil cancer can be treated with surgery or radiation therapy if it is caught early on.  In more advanced cases, chemotherapy may be suggested.

After surgery, reconstructive surgery can help when structures have been removed. Rehabilitation can help you learn how to talk, eat, and swallow again if necessary.

Tonsil Cancer Prevention

The first step to preventing tonsil cancer is early detection as it forms the foundation of which type of medication would be suitable for the patient. Doctors will do a CT scan to determine the best diagnosis.

Extreme cases of tonsil cancer require an immediate response that may be in the form of seeking impromptu medical care. This happens when there is nonstop bleeding with shortness of breathing. Quick response in such cases is preferred so that one doesn’t succumb to the effects of tonsil cancer.

Radiation therapy is applied when the tonsil cancer is detected at earlier stages of its development.

In some cases, surgeries are conducted to remove any cancerous tissues and this is normally followed by a reconstruction surgery to help rebuild the lost tissues.

Administration of chemotherapy is effective when the cancer is detected at later stages. The dose is administered into the body via the mouth and at certain intervals. This helps to cure tonsil cancer that couldn’t be cured by radiation therapy. Sometimes doctors advise radiation therapy alongside chemotherapy.

Last Reviewed:
October 11, 2016
Last Updated:
September 11, 2017