Beatrice, Eugenie and Sarah speak to Teenage Cancer Trust
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According to Cancer Research UK, a “painless” lump in your neck could mean you have tonsil cancer. It could also be accompanied by a sore throat, ear pain and difficulty swallowing. If you notice any of these symptoms and have concerns it is recommended you see a doctor.
Tonsils are two glands found at the back of your throat.
They are in the part of the throat just behind your mouth, also called the oropharynx.
Tonsils are there to help reduce infection by stopping harmful germs from coming through the mouth and nose.
The Mayo Clinic explained more about the disease: “Tonsil cancer forms when healthy cells in the tonsils develop changes in their DNA.
“A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what 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 tumour that 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 role.
“This common sexually transmitted infection is detected in most tonsil cancers in the United States.
“Tonsil cancer caused by HPV tends to occur at a younger age and is more likely to respond well to available treatments.”
Smoking and regularly drinking alcohol can also increase your risk of developing tonsil cancer.
“If you smoke and drink a lot together, you increase your risk even further,” Cancer Research UK says.
To check if you have tonsil cancer your doctor will examine you.
Cancer Research UK adds: “They might look at the back of your throat using a small mirror that they put into your mouth.
“They will check for swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
“The only way to confirm a diagnosis of cancer is to take a small amount of tissue (biopsy) from the abnormal area.
“A specialist doctor examines it under a microscope.
“They also test your cancer cells to check for HPV infection.
“You might have an examination and biopsy under a general anaesthetic.
“The doctor uses a tube and camera called a panendoscope to look into your throat.”
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