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Symptoms and Signs of Oropharyngeal Cancer

Doctor's Notes on Oropharyngeal Cancer

Oropharyngeal cancer occurs when the cells of the oropharynx, which is the middle part of the throat, including the soft palate, side and back walls of the throat, tonsils, and the back one-third of the tongue, start to grow abnormally. Oropharyngeal cancer is a type of head and neck cancer. Most oropharyngeal cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.

Sometimes oropharyngeal cancer does not cause early symptoms. When symptoms of oropharyngeal cancer occur they may include a lump in the neck, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, trouble opening the mouth fully, difficulty moving the tongue, unexplained weight loss, ear pain, a lump in the back of the mouth/throat/neck, a white patch on the tongue or lining of the mouth that does not go away, or coughing up blood.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.