How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Phil, MD Your Own Question
Dr. Phil, MD
Dr. Phil, MD, Board Certified Physician
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 59441
Experience:  GP in the United States
Type Your Medical Question Here...
Dr. Phil, MD is online now

HelloI believe I have throat cancer and for my own personal

This answer was rated:


I believe I have throat cancer and for my own personal reasons do not wish to have treatment - which means that I can't go to my doctor. I want it just to take its course.

My symptoms are: enlarged (swollen) lymph nodes on either side of my neck under my chin; difficulty swallowing; the handful of times that my voice has completely changed, like I'm talking outside of my voice box; hoarseness (I asked my partner if my voice has changed and he said that it has); headaches, which I have been lucky enough to rarely, if ever, have; and, a general stiffness/soreness in my neck/throat. All of these symptoms have become more noticeable in the past year but I would say I first noticed the lymph nodes and difficulty swallowing beginning two or more years ago.

I am a 57-year-old female who has for most of my life fought - and lost - the smoking battle. I have taken many "breaks" from it but I can certainly be considered a heavy smoker for all of my adult life. Other than the above symptoms I am basically in good health.

My question is: can you guesstimate how advanced it might be at this stage and how long I might expect its course to take. Timing of progression is what I'm most interested in

Thank you for any info you can offer.
Hello. I'm Dr. Phil, licensed and practicing internist. Excellent service is my goal.

Thanks for this excellent question

I'm very sorry about this problem

I need to ask further questions in order to gather information and provide you with the best answer possible.

1)any weight loss?

2)if so how much?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No, no weight loss. I am still able to eat although this may be the reason I'm always the last one to finish as I eat very slowly. Always thought it's because I'm just a slow eater but now wonder if it's because I have been having more trouble swallowing.
Thank you Jneysha.

There is actually no way to tell for sure if this is cancer.

There are many things that can cause this.

Thyroid disorders

GI disorders

Certainly with your history of smoking you are at high risk for head anc neck cancers.

Weight loss and night sweats are a sign of advanced disease.

In the worst case scenario, that this is stage 4 head and neck cancer, the 5 year survival is about 50% with treatment.

Less than that of course without treatment.

However, given the good chance of survival, I would get this checked if you can.

I understand that people have different reasons for their actions and I respect your choices.

It would be nice to know if this is cancer though and not something else that is easily and highly treatable.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Do the night sweats need only to be at night? I have checked with my doctor that I am indeed past menopause and was thrilled to realize that I made it through with very few of the symptoms its known for, especially what we refer to as the "tropical moments".
I have, however, in the past few months been plagued with them ... hot/cold/hot/cold/hot cold and will break out in a sweat. Not constant but when it's happening it's definite.
No, they don't necessarily have to be at night.

In your case, weight loss would be a very bad sign.

It's hard to say for sure.

If you had these symptoms for over a year and it was cancer, I would expect some definite weight loss over this time.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Say my recollection is incorrect and all these symptoms have only become so noticeable in UNDER a year, would your response be the same?

Not to sound too crazy or out of it, my spouse was diagnosed last July with Stage IV colon cancer, given months to live, but happily chemo - and his attitude - have "kicked ass" and he's doing fantastic now. All this to say that most of this past year has been a blur for me.

I will of course watch for the weight loss in any event, but would you have anything else to say before I leave it?
I would strongly recommend that you get this checked out.

This is a highly treatable form of cancer.

The proper therapy can give you a good chance at a normal life

Plus, we don't even know if its cancer!

It could be as something simply as a thyroid problem.

To answer your original question, yes I would answer the same. It's simply hard to change over a difference of a few months

I'm very sorry about your husband but I'm glad he has "kicked ass" :)
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I know this must be very difficult to understand (which is why I will not go and get it checked) I do not want to get it treated. I'm even afraid to go to the dentist in case they spot something ... I don't want anyone to know.

I have one more last-last question and of course I know that you can only speculate and give an opinion based on your knowledge and experience without examination but let me paint the bleakest of pictures. Just say for a moment that it is in fact Stage IV and just say my weight begins to drop, how long can I expect?
I understand. You are a person and are entitled to your own choices.

I respect your wishes. :)

I would say without treatment less than 6 months in this case.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you very much for your time and info. When I go out this last time I will be checking the happiest smiley face in regards XXXXX XXXXX service but I wanted to direct my appreciation to you "personally" since you have been the only one I could talk to about this, so ... thank you. God Bless.
You're very welcome

I wish you the very best in your life. :)
Dr. Phil, MD and 6 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you
I appreciate the excellent rating.

I would be happy to help you in the future. Just ask for feedback. Thank you. :) Dr. Phil in your question opening or bookmark this page

I greatly appreciate a positive rating in the customer satisfaction survey that you will receive via email. It is important for me to get your feedback. Thank you. :)