Symptoms of laryngeal cancer

Your symptoms will depend on where in the larynx the cancer is. Most cancers begin on one of the vocal cords or near to them.

The most common symptom is changes to your voice, such as hoarseness. A change in your voice may be an early symptom of laryngeal cancer affecting the vocal cords (glottis). If you’ve had hoarseness for more than three weeks, your GP (family doctor) should refer you to a hospital for tests.

Occasionally, the first symptoms may be a lump in the throat or neck, or discomfort or pain when chewing or swallowing. These symptoms are more common when the cancer starts in a part of the larynx that is above the vocal cords (supraglottic laryngeal cancer).

Other less common symptoms include feeling breathless or a persistent cough, which may happen when the cancer is affecting the area below the vocal cords, near to the windpipe (subglottis). This is very rare.

If you have any of the above symptoms, it’s important to let your GP know. They can all be caused by other conditions, but it’s important to get them checked.

Back to Understanding larynx cancer

What is cancer?

There are more than 200 different kinds of cancer, each with its own name and treatment.

The larynx

Your larynx is in your neck, above your windpipe (trachea). It is also called the voicebox.