Laryngeal Cancer: Symptoms

What are the symptoms of laryngeal cancer?

The symptoms of laryngeal cancer depend on the location and size of the tumor. Tumors are most often found on the vocal cords. Although they are not usually painful, they do cause hoarseness or changes in the voice.

Tumors that are located above the vocal cords may cause the following symptoms:

  • Lump in the neck or feeling that something is stuck in your throat

  • Sore throat

  • Earache

Tumors that begin in the area below the vocal cords don't usually cause hoarseness. That is why they are often not discovered until an advanced stage. These tumors are rare.

These are some other warning signs of laryngeal cancer:

  • Hoarseness that lasts longer than 2 weeks

  • Trouble swallowing or breathing

  • A cough or sore throat, or both, that won't go away

  • Choking on food (this can happen as the tumor grows)

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Bad breath

  • Ear pain that doesn't go away

When to see your healthcare provider

Many of these symptoms may be caused by other health problems. But it is important to see your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms. Only a healthcare provider can tell if you have cancer. It's common for people with these symptoms to be sent to an ear, nose, and throat specialist to be checked. This specialist is called an otolaryngologist or a head and neck surgeon.