Q. What are the signs of throat cancer?

Answered by
Dr. Deepthi. M
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Aug 25, 2017

Hello doctor,

I have swollen tonsils from about a month. I have been taking antibiotics but, they are not getting better. I have a slight pain in the throat. I sometimes have a dull ear pain. Is it a sign of tonsil or throat cancer?



Welcome to

  • Your problem of pain in the throat can be because of tonsillar infection called tonsillitis. Taking only antibiotics will not help.
  • Tonsillitis can be of two types depending on the severity of the infecting agent. The first type is acute tonsillitis where it presents with a severe throat pain, high fever, and severe inability to swallow food and liquids.
  • The other type can be because of a less severe infection where it presents only with a mild to moderate throat pain and an inability to swallow which lasts over months to even years with occasional pain called as chronic tonsillitis.
  • Your condition seems like chronic tonsillitis. It presents with swollen tonsils and sometimes yellowish pus points may also be seen over the tonsils. This is not cancer.
  • Consult an ENT doctor. You may even require a surgery because this chronic tonsillitis becomes a constant source of infection in your oropharynx which can lead to problems later on.

For more information consult an ENT otolaryngologist online -->

Hello doctor,

Thanks for the reply. Also, I would like to add that my right tonsil is more swollen than the left. I read on the internet that this maybe a sign of cancer. Is it?



Welcome to

  • Not necessarily. Almost always, there will be a slight inequality in the size of the tonsils. Unless the size is significantly larger than the other, it is not of concern.
  • These are the signs of cancer:
  1. Rapidly growing in size.
  2. Very hard stone-like feel on touch.
  3. Extreme weight loss. Losing more than 20 % of your body weight in a span of three to four months.
  4. Painful and bleeding on touch. 
  5. Multiple painless swellings simultaneously in the neck and under your arm pit.
  • If you do not have any of these, it cannot be cancer.
  • Due to repeated infections within the tonsils, tonsils will have irregular scarring and the size shrinks. This is a known fact. Also, people unknowingly tend to chew more often on one side. The tonsil on that side will be more prone to infections, and the size of the tonsil on that side will be smaller than the other side. So, do not worry.

For more information consult an ENT otolaryngologist online -->

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