Active or Passive Smoking May Lead to Cancer of the Voice Box

Active or Passive Smoking May Lead to Cancer of the Voice Box

Smoking kills. Period. This habit is one of the major causes of death worldwide, and the numbers are only increasing day by day. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) tobacco use nearly kills six million people worldwide each year. A severe consequence of smoking is cancer, which can be of different types such as lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas and stomach. Laryngeal cancer is the cancer arising in the larynx, or the “voice box”, the area of the throat which includes the vocal cords. It is a type of head and neck cancer and is frequently diagnosed in smokers. It is also considered to be one of the 10 leading causes of cancer in Indian men.

Head and neck cancers are the most common one in developing countries, and the use of tobacco is one of the biggest risk factors for it. Majority of individuals with these cancers have a history of tobacco use such as gutka, khaini, cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. Another consequence of smoking is that it can harm the voice box.

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Symptoms of Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal cancer is fairly easy to detect as symptoms develop early with hoarseness of voice and then advances to breathing problems in the later stages. If the hoarseness of voice persists for more than three weeks, it is advisable to get a laryngoscopy. Some other symptoms associated with Laryngeal cancer include lump in throat sensation, difficulty in swallowing, weight loss, chronic cough, neck swelling and shortness of breath.


Detecting laryngeal cancer in the early stages is crucial to prevent injury to the vocal cord and preserve voice function. Radiation therapy is a common treatment, and in advance stages, removal of the voice box is required. Even after removal of the voice box, rehabilitation with artificial voice is possible. But smoking during and after treatment of Laryngeal cancer should be strictly prohibited.




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