Why Does Lung Cancer Cause Hoarseness?

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Lung cancer can affect nerves that line to the larynx (the voice box)

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There are some cancers that can cause hoarseness. These include cancers of larynx, throat, lungs, lymphomas, and thyroid. Even sometime a hoarse voice can be the first symptom of these cancers.

The metastatic cancer can have an effect, too. Any cancer from elsewhere in the body (including lung cancer) that spreads and grows in the area between the lungs (mediastinum) can put more pressure on the nerves leading to the larynx.

Chronic coughing

This symptom is attributed by many underlying causes. Coughing that doesn’t improve or difficult to treat can be a symptom of lung cancer, too (see also other symptoms of this cancer)!

And chronic coughing is one of numerous conditions that can affect your throat (including your voice box). It’s quite common to find a hoarse voice in people with chronic coughing.

The larynx is pretty close to the lungs

Lung cancer can affect other parts of the body, even though when it has not spread yet. And once it has spread, the symptoms can be more advanced, too.

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However, first it’s likely to affect the surrounding tissues and nearby organs. It can spread anywhere, but it’s likely to spread to particular places in the body such as lymph nodes, liver, bones, adrenal glands, and brain.

Since the lungs are quite close to the throat and larynx, there is greater chance for cancer in the lung to also affect your vocal box, especially when the cancer has become advanced.

Other factors

  1. It’s thought that some previous lung diseases may increase the risk of lung cancer – especially some that have caused scaring in the lungs (see more in here). And having a personal history of some of these lung diseases may also have contribution to increase the chance of developing a hoarse voice in some patients with lung cancer.
  2. Lung cancer is associated with smoking. Even most cases of the disease are linked to smoking, including secondhand smoke. And as well we know, smoking is also a common cause of hoarseness, as noted before. The effect of smoking worsens if combined together with heavy drinking since alcohol can make the toxic chemicals from tobacco become easier to be absorbed by the body.
  3. Again, smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer. But other irritating substances in the air can increase the risk of lung cancer, too (see more in here). Some may also contribute to cause a hoarse voice.

Tips for coping

The treatment is closely dependent on the underlying cause. If your hoarseness occurs due to lung cancer, the treatment is necessary to treat the cancer.

The following home remedies may also help:

  1. Rest your larynx, talk effectively (talk only when you need)! And temporarily avoid singing, yelling, whispering, crying, or any actions that make your larynx work harder.
  2. Use a vaporizer if necessary, in order to help add more moisture to the air for your breathing.
  3. Keep your throat and airways moist by drinking plenty of water throughout the day! How about gargling? Some people think that it may help, but actually it doesn’t give any help for your vocal box!
  4. Cut on alcohol and any caffeinated beverages!
  5. If you smoke, stop smoking!
  6. Avoid using decongestants since they can make your larynx dry out!
  7. Talk to your nurse or doctor for more advice!
Citations /references:

  1. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003054.htm
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20736105

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