Throat cancer, also known as pharyngeal cancer, is any cancer that forms in the pharynx, the tube that starts behind your nose and ends at the top of your esophagus. Most often, throat cancer develops as squamous cell carcinomas, thin, flat cells that resemble fish scales.

Ear Nose Throat specialty national ranking badgeThroat Cancer at UK Markey Cancer Center

The throat cancer care team at Markey collaborates with regular meetings to discuss each patient’s care. We will develop a plan that increases your chances for successful treatment while also minimizing side effects wherever possible.

Our highly experienced team includes:

  • Head and neck surgeons who specialize in removing throat cancers, as well as reconstruction after tumor removal.
  • Medical oncologists who give drug treatments like chemotherapy.
  • Radiation oncologists who give precision radiation treatment.
  • Speech therapists who help with swallowing and speech issues.
  • Dietitians who ensure you’re getting the proper nutrition before, during and after treatment.

Markey has provided state-of-the-art cancer care for more than 30 years, and we are proud to be the only cancer center in Kentucky designated by the National Cancer Institute. Since 2017, Markey Cancer Center has been nationally recognized as a top 50 cancer center by U.S. News & World Report.

Throat cancer can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • A sore throat that won’t go away
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain, especially pain that worsens when swallowing
  • A lump in the neck
  • Persistent hoarseness or voice changes

According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for throat cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body varies from 52 to 83 percent, depending on the part of the throat where the cancer begins. When the cancer spreads to nearby areas, survival rates drop to 35 to 49 percent. The survival rate for throat cancer that spreads to distant parts of the body is between 23 and 43 percent.

You can lower your risk of cancer by taking steps to build a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways you can lower your risk for this disease, as well as improve your overall basic health:

  • Avoid using tobacco products. Tobacco has been tied to multiple cancers, and it is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancer deaths.
  • Stay physically active. Your physical activity is related to risk for colon and breast cancer. Excess weight gained from inactivity increases the risk of multiple cancers.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. It is important to be mindful of how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol intake, even in moderate amounts, can increase the risk for colon, breast, esophageal and oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Learn about screenings. Your primary care doctor can recommend appropriate cancer screenings based on your age, personal risk and family history.
  • Use of tobacco products and exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that may be prevented with the HPV vaccine

Poor nutrition or a diet lacking in certain vitamins may also contribute to throat cancers, as well as other diseases. A healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables and low amounts of processed meats and refined grains may lower your risk for certain cancers.

  • For your first visit, you will be directed to the Head, Neck & Respiratory clinic on the second floor of the Ben F. Roach Cancer Care Facility.  
  • You can register on the first floor in the registration area, where a Markey team member will help guide you through your appointment.
  • Several parking options are available to patients of Markey Cancer Center.
  • Please remember to bring your patient packet with the completed forms. These items will help your doctor learn more about your case and determine the best plan for your care.
  • To meet our patient needs, UK HealthCare accepts many forms of insurance.

Clinical trials are research studies aimed at evaluating medical, surgical or behavioral interventions to determine if a new treatment is safe and effective. 

At UK Markey Cancer Center, we are advancing cancer care and research to prevent, detect and treat cancer – one patient at a time. As a patient at Markey, you have a team of people looking at your individual case, applying the most recent cancer knowledge to give you the best chance of survival.

Markey has more open clinical trials than any other cancer center in the region, giving you access to some of the most advanced options available. Learn more about ongoing clinical trials for treating throat cancer.

NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 57 in the nation.