Tonsil Cancer – Pictures, Symptoms, Survival Rate, Staging, Prognosis

What is Tonsil cancer?

Tonsil cancer refers to a cancerous condition in which one of the three tonsils gets affected. Most commonly the cancer affects palatine tonsils that are present on either side of the throat. Generally most of the cancerous cells arises in lining of the mouth and affects the tonsils. (1,2)

tonsil cancer image

Image 1 – Tonsil location

It is been noted that smoking and Alcohol consumption increases the risk of tonsil cancer. In tonsil cancer, the palatine tonsils get affected. It is generally helpful to recognize the signs of tonsil cancer as it can help in early treatment. According to the doctors, most of the tumors in tonsils are squamous cell carcinomas that can widespread through blood stream when it turns malignant.

Signs and symptoms of tonsil cancer

The signs and symptoms are often misunderstood with tonsillitis. Most of the symptoms are common in both the cases but the patient is advised to seek medical assistance if the symptom persists for a long period. Mentioned below are the symptoms:

  • Sore throat – Sore throat is one of the symptoms. If the patient feels soreness in the throat for a long period of time or the soreness is not reducing even after taking medicines, then the patient must check for tonsil cancer. In some cases, it has been noted that the frequency of sore throat increases in tonsil cancer patient.
  • Enlargement of lymph nodes – Mostly in all types of cancer, the enlargement of lymph nodes has been noted. The patient suffering might experience the enlargement of lymph node on the right side of the neck followed by cell growth in the neck region. The enlargement of lymph nodes causes ear pain and discomfort.

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  • Facing difficulty in swallowing food – Most tonsil cancer patients suffers difficulty in swallowing food due to a cancerous growth. The difficulty arises due to swollen tonsils that cause difficulty in swallowing food.
  • Tiredness and fatigue – fatigue is a symptom of tonsil cancer so if the tiredness does not go off even after taking adequate rest and proper food then in such cases one must consult doctors.
  • Ear pain and bad breath – Ear pain and bad breath are both alarming symptoms of tonsil cancer. The lymph node enlargement sometimes causes the infection in the mouth that causes bad breath. If the problem of bad breath persists after taking medication then ne must consult a doctor to know the root causes of the problem.
  • Difficulty in Breathing – If one faces difficulty in breathing and another respiratory problem arises then one must consult a medical physician.

Abnormal tonsil symptoms

Image 2 – Tonsil cancer signs

Stages of tonsil cancer

Tonsil cancer has four different stages based on the symptoms and conditions. If the cancer is detected in early stage then, it is easy to treat the cancer but as the stages progresses, the condition of patient suffering from tonsil cancer deteriorates. Listed below are the stages:

  • Stage 0 – Generally doctors describes stage zero cancer is referred as “in site cancer’ which means the cancer is in place. In this stage, the cancer grows in its place and does not invade other tissues. Stage zero is curable because doctors remove the entire tumor through surgery.
  • Stage I – This stage is referred as early stage of cancer. In this stage, the tumor does not grow deep but forms a small lump in its place.
  • Stage II & III – In these stages, the cancerous cells in the tumor grow rapidly and grow in size. The cancerous cell starts spreading in nearby tissue and invades lymph nodes. In this stage, the tumor starts migrating to the other part of the body through blood stream.
  • Stage IV – This stage is called metastatic cancer in which the cancerous cell spreads to various organs.



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Prognosis and Survival Rate

The prognosis is dependent of the stage of tonsil cancer and the location of the cancerous tumor in the body. A patient in stage zero can be treated and has high survival rate. However, it the cancer becomes life threatening when it spreads to the other parts of the body.

Medical physicians suggest that it becomes difficult to treat cancer when it reaches stage III and IV. An early diagnosis of the cancer can help the patient to survive 6-7 years more. The treatment for the last stage is not available thus it is advised to undergo proper medical diagnosis over a regular period of time so that the tonsil cancer can get detected in early stage.

Pictures of Tonsil Cancer

Tonsilitis pictures

Image 3

tonsil cancer pictures

Image 4


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