Cancer of the tonsils

Please explain this and the prognosis with lymph involvement 

  • Hello Sue B T,

    Thank you for getting in touch and welcome to our Online Community.

    Tonsil cancer falls under the category of head and neck “cancers and is usually a type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

    It is also thought that certain strains of HPV can increase the risk of head and neck cancers.

    Lymph nodes are a network of glands throughout the body including the neck. They drain away waste fluid and help fight infection.

    Biopsies can be taken to examine lymph nodes as doctors want to know whether any nodes contain cancer as well as the size of the node, which side of the neck is affected and whether any cancer cells have spread into the tissue that surrounds the lymph nodes.

    Knowing the status of the lymph nodes determines the stage of cancer, which is often referred to in the TNM staging system.

    The treatment options for tonsil cancer can include surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. These options are determined by the stage and grade of a cancer.

    A cancer that spreads to lymph nodes in the neck carries an increased risk of cancer cells spreading to other parts of the body and is therefore of greater concern than a cancer that is still completely contained within the tonsil.

    You’re asking about prognosis and this is a question that is difficult for us to answer specifically for you.

    Prognosis and survival  is based on many factors and while those statistics are available it’s vital to remember that they tell you nothing about individual circumstances and we would always suggest that people affected by cancer discuss prognosis with their own doctor.

    If you would like to discuss tonsil cancer in more detail you are welcome to call the Cancer Information Nurses on the Macmillan Support Line.

    I can see that you’ve joined the head and neck cancer on line forum and I’m sure they will offer support to you too.

    Best wishes,


    Cancer Information  Nurse Specialist