DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Throat cancer refers to cancerous tumors that develop in your throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) or tonsils.
Your throat is a muscular tube that begins behind your nose and ends in your neck. Throat cancer most often begins in the flat cells that line the inside of your throat.
Your voice box sits just below your throat and is also susceptible to throat cancer. The voice box is made of cartilage and contains the vocal cords that vibrate to make sound when you talk.
Throat cancer can also affect the piece of cartilage (epiglottis) that acts as a lid for your windpipe. Tonsil cancer, another form of throat cancer, affects the tonsils, which are located on the back of the throat.
Oct. 01, 2015
- Niederhuber JE, et al., eds. Cancer of the head and neck. In: Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 9, 2015.
- Flint PW, et al. Malignant tumors of the larynx. In: Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2015. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 9, 2015.
- Head and neck cancers. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed Sept. 9, 2015.
- Laryngeal cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/laryngeal-treatment-pdq. Accessed Sept. 9. 2015.
- Hypopharyngeal cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/hypopharyngeal-treatment-pdq. Accessed Sept. 9, 2015.
- Oropharyngeal cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/oropharyngeal-treatment-pdq. Accessed Sept. 9, 2015.
- Langevin SM, et al. Gastric reflux is an independent risk factor for laryngopharyngeal carcinoma. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 2013;22:1061.
- AskMayoExpert. Head and neck cancers. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
- Freedman ND, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and head and neck cancer risk in a large United States prospective cohort study. International Journal of Cancer. 2008;122:2330.
- Deng GE, et al. Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: Complementary therapies and botanicals. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology. 2009;7:85.
- HPV vaccines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/vaccine.html. Accessed Sept. 9, 2015.
- Cook AJ. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 17, 2015.