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Q. Are localized larynx pain and ear pain a sign of cancer?

Answered by
Dr. Vinay. S. Bhat
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on May 10, 2022

Hello doctor,

I have a sore throat on one side close to my larynx, the right-hand side. It is very localized, only in a very small place. It hurts while swallowing. I also have ear pain at times. It developed after a short respiratory illness, but it has been for over three weeks. I am very worried it is cancer. It is worse in the morning, when I speak certain pitches and when I swallow. I am really worried; please help.

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#

Hello,

Welcome to icliniq.com.

Unilateral throat pain after recovery from an upper respiratory tract infection that is moderate to severe and with associated referred ear pain is likely due to aphthous ulcers of the tonsil, area around the tonsil, or deeper part of the tongue. Most of them are self-resolving and will not need any specific treatment. Cancers of the oropharynx are rare, and pain is not usually a presenting symptom. So I do not think you need to worry about that.

I suggest you take any available OTC (over-the-counter) B complex tablets or capsules for a week. Do not try to use your finger to check that area of pain, and avoid doing salt water gargling. For pain, you can use Paracetamol or Acetaminophen as and when required. You should be alright in the next 7 to 10 days.

Take care.

Hi,

Thank you for the reply.

I have had tonsilitis before, and this is much further down. So I am just worried that it is something wrong as it does not get any better. Can it be an ulcer on my larynx, or what can it be? I appreciate any help you can provide.

#

Hi,

Welcome back to icliniq.com.

Ulcers are common in the lateral pharyngeal wall, inferior to the tonsillar area or the base of the tongue area. Most of these ulcers are self-resolving. However, if your symptoms persist even after a month of onset despite routine treatment, you may need to get a video laryngoscopy from an ENT (ear, nose, throat). By your clinical history, I do not suspect anything sinister.

Take care.

Hi,

Thank you for the reply.

The pain feels close to the larynx. Is that the area you are talking about? I am so worried about it because my mother had mouth cancer last year (she is 70). Do cancers feel different from this? If that makes sense, it is like the pain is thereupon swallowing or flexing my cough muscles. Thank you for your help.

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Hi,

Welcome back to icliniq.com

Please attach a photo with a finger pointing to the area of pain. That will help me decide on the area of involvement and reason for pain.

Thank you.

Hi,

Thank you for the reply.

Here is the photo. It is mainly very painful if I flex my coughing muscles (i do not know the name) or when I swallow deeply. It feels like a cut or a sore.

Please help.

#

Hi,

Welcome back to icliniq.com

Pain in the lower part of the neck is unlikely due to aphthous ulcers. Either it is deep neck muscle spasms known as cervical myofascial pain or subacute thyroiditis. Unless examined directly, it is very difficult to confirm. None of the malignancies present with pain in the area you have pointed out, that I can assure you.

Take care.

Hi doctor,

Thank you for the reply.

Do you mean cancer does not present with pain in these areas? Thank you.

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Hi,

Welcome back to icliniq.com.

Yes, common symptoms of cancers in the larynx or hypopharynx are changing in voice, difficulty (not pain) in swallowing, difficulty in breathing, swelling in the neck, etc.

Regards.

Hi doctor,

Thank you for the reply.

How long do you think it might take to get better? So far, there is no improvement at all. It is mainly when I flex my throat muscle that I feel the pain (like a sharp pain as a cut might). It has been 3.5 weeks now, so I am just worrying it will never get better. Thank you.

#

Hi,

Welcome back to icliniq.com.

If it is myofascial pain, then hot compresses to the area of pain two times daily may help. If it is thyroiditis, it may last for a couple of months.

Regards.

Hi doctor,

Thank you for the reply.

Is there anything else that could cause just one side to feel sore? I am just worried it will be a sore in my throat that could become cancer. Is there anything else to think about? Thank you.

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Hi,

Welcome back to icliniq.com.

There is nothing else that can cause such symptoms in the lower part of the neck. Rarely acid reflux disorders can do that, but the pain in those cases will be milder and burning type.

Regards.

Hi doctor,

Thank you for the reply.

Ok, thank you. I will try not to panic. Hopefully, it resolves soon, and I will start to feel better.

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Hi,

Welcome to icliniq.com.

Even I think you will be better in a week or two. So do not worry about cancer. None of your symptoms point towards anything sinister as per your clinical history.

Regards.


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