What Does Tonsil Cancer Look Like?

We’re fascinated by things we don’t fully comprehend or understand. We’re constantly reflecting on how our bodies work so efficiently. It’s normal to have questions regarding human anatomy

Cancer is a disease that scares many. There are also over 100 types of cancers. This pretty much confirms that the general population needs to learn more about the human body.

1. What are Tonsils?

Tonsils are tissues at the back of the throat that guard the human body against infections. It should go without saying that tonsils are also present in the back of the tongue and throat.

Tonsil cancer can potentially spread to the nose and tongue too.

2. What Is Tonsil Cancer & What Does It Look Like?

This is a frequent question because oropharyngeal cancer is common. Tonsil cancer is scarily common. It’s due to an increase in HPV and also engaging in alcohol and tobacco.

People also don’t realize that to know what tonsil cancer looks like, all they have to do is inspect their throat in front of a mirror. There are two pad-like structures on the sides of the throat. These are palatine tonsils. They’re most prone to tonsil cancer.

Something that people must keep in mind is that you can develop tonsil cancer even after a tonsillectomy. This is because even after a tonsillectomy, certain parts of the tissue are left behind which can develop cancer.

Signs of tonsil cancer include a sore throat and feeling like there’s a lump in the throat. The uneasy feeling of something being caught up in the throat is another red flag to look out for.

3. Who’s at Risk of Getting Tonsil Cancer?

What does tonsil cancer look like?
By Alexander Grey/Unsplash copyrights 2019

As mentioned earlier, people who regularly consume alcohol and tobacco are at serious risk of getting diagnosed with tonsil cancer. People of all ages can potentially deal with this disastrous disease.

However, tonsil cancer is more prevalent in people who are older than 50. Statistically, men are way more at risk of getting tonsil cancer than women.

Another statistical figure shows that people of white ethnicity are more at risk compared to people of black ethnicity.

Fortunately, medical technology has grown leaps and bounds and there are abundant tests available at a doctor’s disposal.

4. Tests for Diagnosing Tonsil Cancer

The best way to see what tonsil cancer looks like is via tests.

4.1 General Checkups & The Signs of Cancer Cells

What does tonsil cancer look like?
By National Cancer Institute/Unsplash copyrights 2020

The process usually kicks off with the doctor examining the back of your throat by inserting a small mirror in the mouth.

You can find out about it through tests because the doctor will also remove tissue from the area.

The doctor will also check your cancer cells for any signs of an HPV infection.

All of the above may happen under a general anaesthetic present to relieve the patient. Doctors rely on other tests too.

4.2 MRI Scan

What does tonsil cancer look like?
By National Cancer Institute/Unsplash copyrights 2020

To the uninitiated, MRI scans produce pictures of the internal human body. It’s an excellent tool to pinpoint the location of the cancer and where it’s spread.

MRI, or as it’s also known – Magnetic Resonance Imaging can produce high-quality images of soft tissues. It can also illuminate abnormal areas and other parts of the body too. MRI scans are the best way to see “what does a tonsil cancer look like?’.

4.3 Computed Topography

What does tonsil cancer look like?
By National Cancer Institute/Unsplash copyrights 2020

Computed Topography, better known as a CT scan has always helped doctors.

The technology combines X-rays and computer technology to produce images of the insides of a human body. It can show pretty much anything and that includes bones, organs, blood vessels, and even fat.

A CT scan does a better job of producing images with better attention to detail compared to a general X-ray. CT scans are also prevalently used for tissue biopsy and this is why doctors trust a CT scan.

However, keep in mind that your healthcare professional may ask you to not consume food for a specific amount of time before the scan.

4.4 PET-CT Scan

What does tonsil cancer look like?
By National Cancer Institute/Unsplash copyrights 2019

This is quite possibly the most important tool for detecting cancer in the human body. This is because it’s designed specifically to find cancer and what stage it’s in.

This is why a PET-CT scan is the best way to see the cancer. This method is comparatively a more sensitive imaging test and is known to find abnormal activity.

It also finds an accurate spot for biopsies. It also shows the doctor if the patient is positively responding to the cancer treatment and even plans radiation therapy as an alternative.

However, the process is more complicated and time-consuming than the other tests mentioned above. It begins with the patient having to eat a small radioactive substance called FGD-18.

This is because cancer cells use more energy than other cells. This helps the PET-CT scan produce accurate results.

Tonsil cancer is on the rise these days due to an increase in the cases of HPV-induced cancers. This is a worrying sign and it’s about time that people become more aware of what causes these diseases in the first place. 

Last Updated on December 23, 2023 by