Persistent sore throat could be a sign of cancer

GPs with patients who have a persistent sore throat, combined with shortness of breath, trouble swallowing or earache, should consider cancer as the cause, according to new research.

Currently, it is recommended patients with persistent hoarseness or an unexplained neck lump are investigated for throat or laryngeal cancer.

Cancer Research UK’s Weilin Wu said patients should not be alarmed “A sore throat on its own wasn’t linked to laryngeal cancer, But importantly, this study also provides the best evidence to date to support the current recommendation to refer older patients with persistent hoarseness.”

The research, led by the University of Exeter, looked at patient records from more than 600 GP practices and studied 806 patients diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and 3,559 control patients.

Lead author Dr Elizabeth Shephard said it was the first real look at all the symptoms that might be important for laryngeal cancer.

“The significance of the study really is that we’ve found that hoarseness is important for laryngeal cancer, but significantly the risk of having laryngeal cancer greatly increases when it’s combined with a recurrent sore throat,” she said.

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