HealthLingering hoarseness? You could be overlooking signs of these two cancers

Lingering hoarseness? You could be overlooking signs of these two cancers

Hoarseness may herald a serious cancer.
Hoarseness may herald a serious cancer.
Images source: © Licensor | Anastasiia Gorshkova

7:03 PM EST, January 15, 2024

Hoarseness, when accompanied by typical signs of infection or caused by an unusually strenuous use of the voice (e.g. regular performances in front of an audience), is generally not a cause for concern.

Yet, if the cold has passed and the environmental factors triggering hoarseness have been eliminated, it should normally disappear. If, instead, it persists for more than two weeks, it's advisable to consult a doctor.

Hoarseness can be a symptom of various conditions, including stress and allergies, gastroesophageal reflux, hypothyroidism, or even cancer, either laryngeal or thyroid. It's important to stress that early detection of both types of cancer increases the likelihood of a complete cure.

Thyroid cancer

The symptoms of thyroid cancer include palpable lumps in the neck (though most are benign), difficulty swallowing or breathing, a sore throat or neck, and swollen lymph nodes.

In this case, hoarseness may arise from the pressure of the tumor on the recurrent laryngeal nerve.

Risk factors for developing thyroid cancer include radiation exposure, genetic predisposition (such as Cowden's syndrome or a family history of thyroid cancer), thyroid disease, and, according to some studies, a diet low in iodine.

Laryngeal cancer

The symptoms of laryngeal cancer are somewhat similar to those of thyroid cancer. Besides a sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing and breathing, there can be ear pain, a chronic cough (or coughing up blood), and unexplained weight loss.

Risk factors for laryngeal cancer include smoking, a deficiency in vitamins A and C, living in polluted environments, frequent alcohol consumption, and exposure to heavy metals, asbestos, vapors of chromic, nitric, and sulfuric acid, and coal, wood, or cement dust.

Consulting a doctor

Many of the symptoms above can also be indicative of other, less serious health conditions. However, noticing any of them warrants immediate consultation with a doctor.

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