Cancer of the larynx (voice box) often causes persistent hoarseness. It’s most common between the ages of 55 and 65, and is five times more common in men, especially if they smoke and drink.
In about 3 out of 5 cases, the cancer develops on the vocal cords.
Treatment of Laryngitis
■ You may be offered surgery to remove part or all of the larynx and/or radiotherapy.
■ If the larynx has to be removed, I’m afraid ordinary speech will no longer be possible.
However, several techniques have been developed to allow you to speak without a larynx. Speech therapy may enable you to speak using your oesophagus, or you may be able to learn to speak with the help of a handheld electromechanical device that generates sounds. Alternatively, a small device known as a tracheoesophageal implant may be fitted to help you speak.
WARNING: Any hoarseness starting for no reason in middle age or older must be checked out by your doctor.
In more than 9 of out 10 cases, treatment is successful if the tumour develops on the vocal cords and is detected and treated early.