Tonsil Cancer

There are three kinds of tonsils — the palatine tonsils, which are at the back of your throat; the pharyngeal tonsils, or adenoids, which are behind the nose; and the lingual tonsils, which are at the base of the tongue. The palatine tonsils are what most people consider their “tonsils” and are the most likely to become cancerous.

Lifestyle choices can increase the likelihood of developing tonsil cancer especially if you drink alcohol or smoke. Tonsil cancer is more prevalent in men, individuals over the age of 50, patients with the HPV or HIV virus and also in patients who have had an organ transplant.

Symptoms of tonsil cancer are similar to that of strep throat. However, tonsil cancer is most common in people over the age of 50 while strep throat is most common in young patients from 5-15 years old.

Symptoms include:

  • Sores in the mouth or the back of the throat that don’t heal
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Persistent mouth pain
  • Swollen tonsils that are not equal in size
  • Painful or difficult swallowing
  • Lump in the neck
  • Neck pain

Diagnosis and Treatment

We use imaging, diagnostic testing, needle biopsy and laboratory testing to determine the size of the tumor, type of tumor, origin of the tumor and the best course of treatment for your individual situation. Treatment options include Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy and Surgery.