Health, Life

About that time that I thought I had oral cancer…

10/18/2020 Update: Here’s another update since people are still landing on this post. 9 years later, my cyst is still in the same place on my uvula. It’s the same size and hardness. I never had surgery to remove it, and I hardly think about it anymore. 🙂

3/6/2014 Update: When I wrote this post back in 2011 I had NO IDEA so many other people would be searching for this same problem. I just wanted to give you guys an update- It’s almost three years later, and my cyst is the same size (quarter inch), and still hangs annoyingly in the back of my mouth, about a half inch to the right of my uvula. I poke at it with my tongue when I’m bored in meetings, and it can move around a little bit. Anyways, all this is to say, it’s still there, same size, and it’s still not cancer. Probably just a blocked salivary duct. If you’re really worried about a lump in the back of your throat, please please please go to an Ear Nose Throat doctor! Your health and peace of mind is worth it! 

I know that I mentioned my minor health complications (and corresponding mini depression) to close friends a few weeks back, but now that it’s over, I thought I would share the whole neurotic story with the internet. Who knows, maybe somebody in the same situation will find it and be less freaked out by reading a similar story.


About a month and a half ago I noticed a small lump in the back of my throat, quite close to my uvula (I almost typed in “hangy thing that hangs in the back of your throat”  🙂 ). Well of course I instantly thought THROAT CANCER! and started poking at it with my finger. Then I remembered that I’m a hypochondriac and I let it go. Gotta keep the crazy at bay.

A few days later my monthly copy of Cosmopolitan came in (it was a present, don’t judge), and guess what was this month’s freaky health story? It was oral cancer! According to Cosmo, women in my age range are making up almost 25% of new oral cancer diagnoses, and it’s credited to rise in STD infections in the mouth (oral sex, duh). Nevermind that the annual # of new oral cancer diagnoses is about 1,200, and I had a VERY low chance of being one of those 300 women… I felt anxious.

I then proceeded to fall into a downward spiral of thought pattern that fellow hypochondriacs will understand all too well. I became slightly obsessed. In my spare time I conducted Google image searches, stared deeply into a mirror with my mouth wide open, read random health message boards and showed disinterested friends my throat… Oh it was bad.

Anyways. Weeks passed, and a wave of flu-like sickness passed through my house. My throat lump got bigger. I had a bright red sore throat and developed canker sore like ulcerations in the back of my throat. It was gross. I finally went to the doctor.

My GP addressed my flu symptoms and told me to come back if my throat lump was still there after my flu passed. The flu passed, and yet the lump was still there. I went back to the doctor, finally scoring a referral to an Ear/Nose/Throat guy. After checking my ENT’s credentials on Yelp I was a bit nervous, because his headshot was so unflattering. Does that sound bad? He just didn’t look very nurturing, more like Frankenstein.

It turned out that “Dr. E.” was actually a very kind specialist, who put me quite at ease (he was rather touchy, but that’s a whole ‘nother story).  He really didn’t do too much- he just took a look, sprayed some numbing spray on the back of my throat, and tried to pop my bump open with a syringe… Only  a little painful!

His verdict:  “It’s not cancer. If it was cancer it would be eating through your throat right now. It would look like  a herpes sore in the back of your mouth.”

AAAAAAAAAAA! Quite a visual! So, no oral cancer. But I do have a benign “lump thing”  in the back of my throat! It could be a blocked salivary gland, it could be virus related… he wasn’t really sure. Basically I’m just supposed to live with it. If it gets bigger I will go back for “minor” surgery to have it cut out. That is an unpleasant thought, but whatever.

Anyways, I’m fine now, but out $$$ from all the doctor visits. I suppose it was worth it just to learn this fun factoid: My tonsils are 3x larger than the average human tonsil. I am a freak. My ENT suggests that I get them cut out as well, since my “future husband will probably be bothered by my snoring….” ????!!!

27 Comments to “About that time that I thought I had oral cancer…”

  1. sarah

    You are lucky a whole lot of people have larger tonsil enflamation when they are much younger. Children. If they can handle so can you. Stop thinking you are ill. It annoys people who are actually ill.

    1. Cara

      Tonsillectomies as adults are 10 times worse. You don’t know a the personal health history or family history that may drive her concern, and it is great that Tracy can share her experience. Casting aspersions and competing over illnesses is not helpful. Take what you like and leave the rest.

    2. Me

      She did the right thing, serious enough or not. I pat people on the back when they take charge of their own health. So what you may think is petty and small is actually a big deal. Stop telling people what to do. You are rude and thoughtless.

    3. Me

      Sarah, She did the right thing, serious enough or not. I pat people on the back when they take charge of their own health. So what you may think is petty and small is actually a big deal. Stop telling people what to do. You are rude and thoughtless. I’m glad you’re okay Tracey!

    4. L.B.

      That is a completely rude and bitter thing to say to someone who was simply making a remark about something their doctor said. And there is nothing wrong with someone being concerned with their health, that’s how we as people (if we are lucky) catch our illnesses early on if they are existent.

  2. Frankie

    just woke up with a bubble in my throat next to the uvula .. starred in the mirror poked at it basically did everything you did hypochondriac style and ended up at Google to see what others say. Enjoyed reading your post and will be headed to the doctor…You sure have an imagination 🙂

  3. Abn11

    I was attempting to do a google search about the cyst-like lesion next to my uvula and I came across your story. Gave me a little hope it’s not cancer! Cross your fingers for me that mine’s nothing too! 🙂

    1. Tracy Author

      Yep two years later and I’ve still got this cyst!! If you can afford it, definitely see an ENT. It’s worth it for the peace of mind. Good luck!

  4. Sarah

    Hi Tracy –

    Can you tell me what this thing next to your uvula looks like? I have a ‘thing’ I found next to my uvula a few months back and am freaking out. Mine looks like a small flesh colored bump – I can move it around a bit. I dunno wtf it is but it’s freaking me out

    1. Tracy Author

      Hi Sarah!

      It’s like Frankie above in the comments said- it looks like a “bubble” cyst lump thing. Mine is basically a quarter of an inch wide. I tried to take a picture in the bathroom, but the photo doesn’t come out very clear. Yes, when I poke at my bump with my tongue or finger I can squeeze it and move it around. Don’t be too worried. More than two years later I still have this annoying cyst on my uvula, but it’s not cancer. Of course, definitely go to an ENT if you can afford it. They’ll take a quick look, poke it, and then be able to tell you what’s going on. Good luck!

  5. Sarah

    Thanks so much for the reply Tracy. I have searched all over the net trying to figure out what this thing is. Thank you for writing this blog entry, it’s the only thing that comes up when typing “thing next to uvula” that doesn’t basically say “OMG you have cancer and are about to die”. It gave me a little peace of mind until I can get to an ENT. My bubble thing sounds kinda the same as your bubble thing, same size and location, etc. Good luck to anyone else out there searching, hopefully we can all just be in the club of ‘benign bubble cyst type thing that no one knows what it is and there are no pic’s on the net that really look like it, but we’re not going to die’ *crosses fingers*

    1. per saperne di più su alcune delle “nobili” motivazioni alla base del tradimento compiuto dall’insetto Follini, cercate su Google “Elisabetta Spitz”…a proposito della parte sana delle cose antiche, ogni tanto mi duole di non vivere in una di quelle epoche in cui si poteva sfidare un altro uomo a duello… ma forse non ha senso da parte mia dolermi di ciò: un insetto non è un uomoStradivari

  6. diana

    oy, I’m so glad this article exists. I’m driving everyone I know INSANE with cancer concerns. My lump is where a tonsil would be if I still had them, it’s flesh-colored and mushy and painless and has been here for years. I thought it was normal until I googled it the other day, and now I’m writing up my will.

  7. Trever

    Seriously, thanks for this. I had a thermal burn on the roof of my mouth from repeated hot pizza consumption and as I started looking in my mouth more, I began to notice this lump. This is literally the first source that has come addressed what it could actually be. Thank you so much!

  8. roberta

    i jus have a lump right in the bak of my uvula it’s kinda big i put pressure up against it an it kind of inflated but after i swallowed sum saliva the lump filled bak up again idk what it is

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  10. Mrv

    Hi Tracy!
    Thank you so much for writing this article! I calmed down a bit. I have bump right next to my uvula it moves. I’m scared if it could be a cancer. Let’s say if it’s cysts can it turn into a cancer. I’m definitely going to doctor soon but I’m freaking out.

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  13. Marcel

    Oral cancers are quite agressive, if was cancer after one year you should have big pain there and getting bigger for sure. I have same thing for 4-5 years and starts to bother me, if was cancer i should be done long time ago.

    1. Tracy Author

      Hi there,
      I really need to do another update on this post! It’s been 8 years, wow.

      8 years later, my cyst is totally fine. I never had surgery. It is the same size and position on my uvula, it never grew or changed in how hard it is.

      Anyways, hope that helps. Do get checked out by an ENT if you’re worried, it’s worth it.

  14. Paige

    Thankyou so much for posting this! I had exactly the same thing and this got me through the awful health anxiety.. I had mine biopsied due to my anxiety and it came back benign and nothing to worry about.. But for others please get it checked out for peace of mind :)!

  15. Nick

    2021 and im going to my ENt next week. Mine moves and shifts when i touch it wit ha Q-tip and i have for months thought “cancer” but this put me at ease. hopefully it can be drained or removed easily but i think i had it for years. i saw a hulu commercial for oral cancer and std’s and freaked out when it swelled up when i got a sore throat. so google doesnt make shit easier and makes the panic happen. Thanks again

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