To diagnose pharyngeal cancer, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine your ears, nose, throat and mouth. He or she will use a small lighted mirror to look at your pharynx, and an endoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a light at the end) to examine the back of your nose. He or she may also order tests, including:
Barium swallow: A series of X-rays of the esophagus and stomach, also called an esophogram or upper GI series. It involves drinking a liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound) that coats the esophagus and stomach, which will show up on X-rays.
Biopsy: A small piece of tissue is removed and examined in a lab.
Endoscopy: A thin, lighted tube is inserted through the mouth or nose so a doctor can see inside the body and look for abnormal tissue.
Fine needle aspiration biopsy: A thin needle is placed into a lump in the neck. Cells are aspirated (drawn out) and examined under a microscope to see if they’re cancerous.
Imaging tests: These include CT, MRI or PET scans, and chest or dental X-rays that can help confirm the presence of a tumor and if it’s spread to other areas.