Clearing of throat constantly - throat cancer?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband was smoker for 40 yrs and just quit one year but for most of our married life of 23 yrs he was always clearing his throat of more now then ever and it is very annoying. Can this be leading to throat cancer.

Expert Answers

Andrew Putnam, M.D. is a Palliative Care physician at Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.

Constant clearing of the throat can mean many things like post nasal drip or even gastric reflux disease. Usually the cause is some sort of irritation of the esophagus, breathing tubes or throat against which the body makes mucous to protect itself. For your husband, a 40 year smoking history and worsening throat clearing mean that cancer of the throat, the esophagus or the lung are possibilities that must be considered, An ENT physician (Ear, Nose & Throat or otolaryngology) can look in his throat to evaluate for the cause while if lower in the esophagus is involved, a gastroenterologist can be more helpful. Best to start with his primary care doctor who can send him to the right person