Tonsil cancer


Tonsil cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the tonsils grow uncontrollably, resulting in the formation of tumors or lesions. The tonsils, which are two oval-shaped pads in the back of the mouth, play a role in the body’s immune system. Tonsil cancer is the most common type of oropharyngeal cancer, and its occurrence is often associated with infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV). However, it can also be caused by excessive alcohol consumption and tobacco use.
Symptoms of tonsil cancer include difficulty swallowing and a feeling of having something stuck in the throat. Unfortunately, tonsil cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage when it has already spread to nearby areas, such as the neck’s lymph nodes. It’s important to note that one can develop tonsil cancer even after having their tonsils removed.
Treatment options for tonsil cancer typically involve surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.


Symptoms commonly associated with tonsil cancer are as follows:

  • Difficulty in swallowing, speaking, or chewing.
  • A feeling of having an obstruction or object stuck in the back of the throat.
  • Blood in the saliva.
  • Pain and swelling in the neck.
  • Ear pain.
  • Presence of a persistent sore or ulcer at the back of the mouth that does not heal.
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Persistent bad breath (halitosis).

If you notice any persistent signs and symptoms that concern you, it is advisable to schedule an appointment with your doctor or dentist.


Tonsil cancer occurs when the DNA of healthy cells in the tonsils undergoes changes, leading to uncontrolled growth and survival of these cells. This abnormal cell growth forms a tumor that can spread to other parts of the body. While the exact cause of this process is still not fully understood, recent research has shown that the human papillomavirus (HPV) plays a significant role in the development of tonsil cancer. Tonsil cancer cases associated with HPV are typically diagnosed at a younger age and generally have better treatment outcomes. Additionally, tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption have been linked to tonsil cancer, and individuals with compromised immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients and those with HIV, are also at a higher risk of developing the disease.

Risk factors

Tonsil cancer can occur to anyone at any age. Several factors may contribute to one’s risk of acquiring it, such as:

  • Age: People over the age of 50 have a higher risk of developing tonsil cancer.
  • Gender: People who are male at birth are three to four times more likely to acquire the disorder than people who are assigned female at birth.
  • Tobacco use: Smoking or heavy use of tobacco products of any kind may increase the risk of tonsil cancer.
  • Alcohol consumption: Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages may contribute to one’s risk.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): Exposure to HPV infection can contribute to the risk of tonsil cancer.