Why Does Lung Cancer Cause Hoarseness?

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Hoarseness (the alternative names include loss of voice, voice strain, or dysphonia) can be found in some patients with lung cancer. Even sometime it can be early sign of the disease, though it is usually clearly noticeable when the cancer has become advanced. Lung cancer can cause a hoarse voice for several reasons.

Understanding hoarseness in general

In general, it is a term used to describe a difficulty or abnormal change in making sounds caused by a variety of conditions. The change may include volume & pitch, become weak, raspy voice, breathy, or scratchy.

The normal vibration of your larynx (vocal box) is essential to help you speak. Anything that makes the vocal box goes awry may lead to hoarseness. These can be inflammation, swelling, infection, polyps, or other things that affect larynx or result vocal cords becoming paralyzed.

image_illustration378So there are a number of different conditions associated with the problem. But mostly, a hoarse voice is caused by acute laryngitis, the inflammation of the larynx. Cold or sinus infection also often causes this discomfort voice.

Acute laryngitis is usually caused by viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract.  This virus is similar to those that cause a cold. Sometime it is also caused by excess vocal strain (such as overusing voice in a singer) or even bacterial infection (rare). The good news, most cases of acute laryngitis are temporary and improve after the underlying cause of the problem gets better.

Other common causes of hoarseness include:

  1. Infection in other upper parts of the respiratory system.
  2. Chronic coughing.
  3. Allergies.
  4. Gastroesophageal reflux (acid reflux), a common problem that occurs when the acid from the stomach leaks out and goes up to the esophagus.
  5. If you inhale irritating substances that cause irritation in your larynx.
  6. Smoking.
  7. Heavy drinking.
  8. And cancer of larynx /throat.

Less common causes of a hoarse voice include:

  1. Irritation /injury from bronchoscopy (breathing tube).
  2. Foreign thing /object in the trachea or esophagus.
  3. Nerves and muscles damage, especially for those around the larynx. This damage can occur due to surgery or trauma.
  4. If you accidentally swallow a harsh chemical liquid.
  5. Changes in the voice box during puberty.
  6. Lung cancer.
  7. Thyroid cancer. Even sometime underactive thyroid may also cause a hoarse voice.

The problem usually goes away within a few weeks (even sometime it improves on its own). However, it can be chronic, too – depending on the underlying cause.

The diagnosis tests include physical exam and observing the presence of other symptoms. Sometime doctor may also need to use a long lighted flexible tube to directly visualize the larynx which is particularly true if the cause of the problem is not initially identified.

Why does lung cancer cause hoarseness?

As mentioned earlier, lung cancer is not common cause of a hoarse voice. But sometime it can cause this symptom, too. Your hoarseness is likely to signal this cancer if you also experience other lung cancer symptoms.

There are some possible ways of why and how lung cancer can cause hoarseness. These include:


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