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Throat Cancer Symptoms and Early Warning Signs: My Personal Experience

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Lisa's father was diagnosed with throat cancer. She shares his story to inform others.

Dad Fighting Cancer of the Throat

My father's personal story of throat cancer I am sharing to help others recognize throat cancer symptoms so perhaps it may save someone's life in getting an earlier detection.

My father's personal story of throat cancer I am sharing to help others recognize throat cancer symptoms so perhaps it may save someone's life in getting an earlier detection.

Smoking and Drinking

My father-in-law had a couple of faults, God rest his soul—he was a heavy drinker and a heavy smoker. He woke up in the morning with a beer in his hand and a cigarette in his mouth; he went to bed the same way

Dad wasn't even a hard liquor or whiskey drinker. He would occasionally have some vodka or Jack; not every day, however. Please understand that I am not judging anyone, so please don't think I am. I my self smoke, yes, I know—but when you mix the two together, over the years, you are asking for trouble.

My Father's Early Signs of Throat Cancer

My father's first symptoms, from what I remember, started off when he would cough; a little bit of bright red blood would trickle out and down his lips and chin.

I remember a few times where just clearing his throat would cause blood droplets on his tongue. He coughed a lot so our very first thought was that maybe he broke a couple vessels in his throat. After about a month of the bleeding getting more and more frequent—and thicker—a few other symptoms started as well, such as:

  • Heavy coughing, his voice would get so hoarse it was hard to understand him.
  • He had trouble swallowing (even his own saliva). He already had a raspy voice for many years because of his smoking so we really didn't even give it a second thought.
  • Felt like there was a lump in his throat or said he thought he had a bad cold coming on.
Cigarette smoking and drinking can increase risk of cancer.

Cigarette smoking and drinking can increase risk of cancer.

Hoarse and Raspy Voice

After a few weeks, my father started complaining his sore throat was getting worse and when he spoke, It was very raspy and deep sounding.

I would say it was roughly within another month or so that he started to literally cough up blood, not trickling any longer. He did make a couple trips to the family doctor for the bleeding and hoarseness, but they just passed it off as a man who drank and smoked a lot and had a sore throat.

The spitting and coughing up blood was either bright red or dark. As a couple more weeks passed, you could see that he was starting to get extremely worried.

He would then start his journey of really searching for answers at the family doctor again. We had no reason to think that these were even that it could be cancer.

The family doctor said he wanted to send him up to the VA clinic because he needed further testing. They diagnosed him with strep throat, gave him some Chloraseptic throat spray and sent him home. I think they even gave him an antibiotic.

It was less than a week after coming back from the clinic before all it took was for him to be sitting there, and blood would just start oozing from his lips as it came up and out his mouth and onto the floor; sometimes landing on his feet.

We were in total shock at this point—we didn't know what to do or where to go. The blood would continue to trickle down his chin even when he was sleeping. We would hurry up and go get clean wet wash towels to clean the blood off his lips, mouth, and chin—it was gut-wrenching. We felt so helpless, and not having any answers, did not help.

Bleeding From Nose and Mouth Gets Worse

I did the best I could to help my mom and hear her stories every day of what was going on. I had a young child at home and it was hard for us to go over there and try to help with a sick man and a young baby running around.

After a few days, the blood continued to just drip out of his mouth and then started to drip out of his nose. We would call the VA clinic and my mother would cry. That's when I do remember the several trips we took back and forth to the VA.

He would try to tell them he couldn't breathe, he couldn't get any air, etc. but it was always; try this, try that, etc. It was basically as the old saying goes, "If at first you don't succeed, try again." After several trips to this Dr. and that Dr., at the Clinic, he was finally diagnosed him with throat cancer.

His Throat Cancer Treatments

Let me tell you that never in my life have I ever seen a more horrible situation. I have seen my share of people dying with cancer and horrible things, but this was over the top. He had radiation to help shrink the tumor so he could breathe.

The tumor was so large it blocked his airways. The radiation would not save his life, but let him live a little while longer and he had a little bit of hope. After all, never give up hope, that's all we have in life.

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Until the tumor shrunk down enough, he had to have a trachea tube put in. The tumor was too large to operate on until the radiation shrank it.

When they removed the tumor in his throat, they had to cut him from ear to ear underneath his chin. His face was so swollen that he literally looked like a monkey. It was the worst thing I ever had to witness in my life.

After they took out the tumor, my mother would have to help him do everything on a daily basis; I mean everything.

Dad had to have a feeding tube because that was the only way he could eat. The tube hung from a pole and it was inserted into his abdomen.

TPN (Total Parental Nutrition) would drip down into the long hose directly into his stomach. That was the only way he could get the nutrients he needed. He didn't have to suffer for very long; in about less than 2 months time from diagnosis, he passed away.

Throat Cancer Prognosis

Please remember that this was a man who was in his early 60's. He had these symptoms for a while before the official diagnosis. The reason I am telling you this is because I don't want you to think that just because you have throat cancer that it's a death sentence.

You have to get to the right Dr. and continue until you get an answer. I have stated this several times in my other articles, and I will continue to think and say this. You know your own body and your body will let you know if something isn't quite right. Listen to it and keep fighting for your health.

When it comes to the prognosis of throat cancer, you can't go by statistics or percentages of other cancer patients. Do not let that be your outlook. It's not like comparing apples to apples, it's like comparing apples to a chair. Each is different and no two outcomes are the same. There are different types of cancer, the way it spreads, etc.

I do not want this article to scare you if you are having issues right now with lung or throat cancer. No one's outcome is the same and each person is different either in:

  • Type of Cancer
  • Past medical history
  • Age
  • Heath , etc.

Of course there a lot of other factors as well, but these are a few of the top ones.

Warning Signs of Throat Cancer

Remember, these are warning signs only and doesn't mean you have cancer

  • A sore throat
  • Lump in the throat that doesn't heal
  • A cough
  • Weight Loss
  • Coughing up blood
  • Changes in your voice (ie., hoarseness)
  • Ear Pain

If you would like to see the links I provided, they would be more helpful than I am, I am simply providing you information and some inside information that I personally experienced.



Lung and Throat Cancer

Now—God forbid any of you that read this has cancer; I don't mean to give you such a grim outlook. My father's cancer was too far gone for them to give him a chance at all. Not all throat cancers are metastasized from the lung as his was.

According to statistics, because of his unfortunate habits, throat or lung cancer would seem to be almost inevitable. I don't drink, but that doesn't make me any safer or less invincible. I think this story is important; if you smoke, quit. If you smoke and drink, you are increasing your chances of getting cancer, especially throat or lung cancer.

A Personal Story From a Physician

Will You Stop Smoking?

A Dedication to My Father-In-Law

I am dedicated this story to my father-in-law. I shared his story to hopefully save someone else from having to go through what he did.

Throat cancer symptoms are often similar to strep throat. It's important for you to be aware of the warning signs or symptoms of this disease. My dad's cancer wasn't detected early enough; therefore, he had no chance. I hope to help someone with telling of his journey.

Video: More Information on Throat Cancer

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Lisa (author) from Central USA on May 22, 2015:

Thanks for pointing out the error. Must have been engrossed in explaining the story....

Momkidd on May 21, 2015:

Thank you for this article, I'm so sorry this happened to your family. Just a side point, an opening surgically created in the neck is a tracheostomy. We are all born with a trachea.

Lisa (author) from Central USA on August 19, 2014:

I wish you luck and it could be anything so don't always assume the worst. It's hard to quit smoking and I stop smoking after 30 years I started smoking e-cigarette's which I also wrote an article on that you can read if you would like and the e-cigarette's have been a miracle to me as I did not think I would ever be able to stop smoking.

Good luck to you and let me know what the docs say , I will be concerned now and I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Also, don't blame yourself for your son smoking. My mother smoked ever sense I could remember and I did not start smoking because of her it was because of trying to be cool and impressing my friends in high school.

You can't take the blame

Wayne on August 18, 2014:

I am a 40 year pack a day or more smoker since age 13. Recently I began having a cough and then it stopped and now I have a sore throat that feels different then any I had before. I have this sense of pending doom as well that wakes me up at night. Tomorrow I head to a ENT specialist to get checked out. I hope its nothing. What really bothers me is my 24 year old son smokes, and I can only feel responsible. My parents smoked while alive, and I feel like I passed it on the death sentence to my son. It haunts me now.

Lisa (author) from Central USA on July 11, 2014:

Thank you Johnny and just so you know I have tried the e-cig and I have been smoke-free for eight months. If you check my other articles I actually wrote an article on the e-cigarette. Let me know if you tried it and if it works for you .. I smoked one and a half packs of cigarettes a day and I quit

johnny on October 29, 2013:

Wow. I smoke and this is really interesting. I think I may try e-cig now. Sorry about your dad. Great information and thanks for sharing

Joshua on December 20, 2012:

Never been any cancer in my family some have been smokers whilst others abstained. The British cancer council who receive millions in funding each year ran a scare campaign over several years, blaming smoking as the sole cause of throat, tongue and mouth cancers. Their campaign worked! Millions of people in the UK stopped smoking. However the incidence of these cancers continues to rise and has nearly doubled over that period. So now they are blaming alcohol. So the funding keeps coming into the cancer council, and to be sure they do not want to loose all that cash.

What is the real cause (and never mentioned) is fluoride in toothpaste. The human mouth is the highest area of bacteria in the body. Now when you brush with toothpaste containing Fluoride it gives you what they call "the ring of confidence" that all the bacteria in your mouth will be gone after brushing. Only problem with this it also kills the GOOD bacteria your body needs for protection of the throat, mouth and stomach. Also the good and bad bacteria in your saliva from your mouth when swallowed help with digestive system.

Fluoride does not as promoted protect your teeth, as a by-product of aluminium smelting it does more harm than good. A much better alternative would be toothpaste made from natural products such as Aloe Vera, which not only cleans and protects your teeth, does NOT kill good bacteria and is much kinder on the stomach if swallowed.

As a final remark smoking though addictive is definitely BAD for the lungs wether it causes lung cancer. If you smell the contents of an ashtray then think what must be the state of my lungs. Then it is an even better reason to give away smoking. Hi and the mon

Lisa (author) from Central USA on September 07, 2012:

Comments are welcome no matter how hard this story is to read. I would be happy to answer any questions if anyone has any. thank you for reading

Lisa (author) from Central USA on December 03, 2011:

It's a bad bad habit. You think I would stop smoking after witnessing what I did. I cut down a LOT, but not enough. Maybe you can get him to read this hub. As I was writing it, it made me think again about trying to stop. I didn't have enough in me to write all what he went through. That was just the basics. It was heart-wrenching.

lorenmurcia on December 03, 2011:

I voted this up but my laptop has some sort of an issue so I accidentally clicked on the other one. Anyway, nice hub. It made me realize even more the danger of smoking. You see, my husband smokes, too. No matter how I try to coax him to stop his habit, it falls on deaf ears. :(

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