Signs and symptoms of laryngeal (larynx) cancer

The symptoms you have will depend on where the cancer is in your larynx.

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

The most common symptom of laryngeal cancer is changes to your voice, such as hoarseness. Changes to your voice may be an early sign of the cancer affecting your vocal cords (glottis). If you notice any changes to your voice, you should see your GP. If you have hoarseness for 3 to 4 weeks that does not go away, your GP should refer you to a hospital for tests.

Sometimes, the first symptom you notice might be a lump in the throat or neck. You may also have discomfort or pain when chewing or swallowing. These symptoms are more common when the cancer starts above the vocal cords. This is called supraglottic cancer of the larynx.

Other less common symptoms include feeling breathless or having a cough that does not go away. This may happen when the cancer affects the area below the vocal cords (subglottis), near the windpipe. But this is very rare.

If you have any of the symptoms above, you should tell your GP. Other conditions may be causing the symptoms, but it is important to get them checked.

We understand that showing any symptoms of what could be cancer is worrying. The most important thing is to speak to your GP as soon as possible. We're also here if you need someone to talk to. You can: