What is Tonsil Cancer?

Tonsil cancer is an abnormal growth of cells within it. Your tonsils are two oval-shaped pads within the rear of your mouth that are a neighbourhood of your body's germ-fighting system.

Tonsil cancer can cause difficulty swallowing and a sensation that something is caught in your throat. Tonsil cancer is typically diagnosed late within the disease, when cancer has spread to nearby areas, just like the lymph nodes within the neck.

Treatments for tonsil cancer include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Tonsil cancer


Signs and symptoms of tonsil cancer include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A sensation that something is caught within the rear of your throat
  • Swelling and pain within the neck
  • Earache
  • Jaw stiffness


Tonsil cancer forms when healthy cells within the tonsils develop changes in their DNA. A cell's DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to undertake to do. The changes tell the cells to grow out of control and to continue living when healthy cells would normally die. The accumulating cells form a tumor which can grow beyond the tonsils and spread to other areas of the body.

It's not clear what causes tonsil cancer, but doctors are finding that human papillomavirus (HPV) is increasingly playing a task. This common sexually transmitted infection is detected in most tonsil cancers within the us. Tonsil cancer caused by HPV tends to occur at a younger age and is more likely to reply well to available treatments.

Risk Factors

Factors which can increase the danger of tonsil cancer include:

  • Using tobacco
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Being infected with human papillomavirus (HPV)


To reduce your risk of tonsil cancer:

  • Don't use tobacco: If you do not use tobacco, don't start. If you currently use tobacco of any kind, talk with your doctor about strategies to help you quit.
  • Limit alcohol if you select to drink: If you opt on to drink alcohol, do so carefully. For healthy adults, meaning up to a minimum of one drink every day for girls and up to 2 drinks every day for men.
  • Get regular care: During your appointment, your dentist will check your mouth for signs of cancer and precancerous changes.
  • Consider the HPV vaccine: Receiving a vaccination to prevent HPV infection may reduce your risk of HPV-related cancers, like tonsil cancer. Ask your doctor whether an HPV vaccine is suitable for you.

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