How is oropharyngeal cancer diagnosed?

A doctor can diagnose oropharyngeal cancer by examining the throat. The doctor will use a mirror and lights, and/or a fiberoptic scope, to look at the throat and will feel the neck for masses. If the doctor finds abnormal tissue, he or she will obtain a piece of tissue in a procedure called a biopsy. The tissue will be checked for cancer cells.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/29/2013.


  • National Cancer Institute 2012: Oropharyngeal cancer PDQ. Accessed January 15, 2013.
  • Kim ES, Gunn GB, William Jr. WN, Kies MS. Chapter 16. Head and Neck Cancer. In: Kantarjian HM, Wolff RA, Koller CA, eds. The MD Anderson Manual of Medical Oncology. 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2011.

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