Could prolonged hoarseness be a sign of throat cancer?
Hi. My Dad who is 56 years old has had hoarseness of his voice for around 5 weeks. I am suspecting that it could be throat cancer but my dad refuses to get it checked. I would like to know whether prolonged hoarseness could be a sign of throat cancer, and what other symptoms I have to look out for? I am wondering whether I should force my dad to get it checked. Thank you!
Dear Lee Yien,
I think that your dad should most definitely have his hoarse voice checked out to make sure it isn’t due to a more worrying cause like cancer.
I always advise anyone who has had a persistent hoarse voice for longer than 2 weeks to undergo a thorough checkup, even if he is a non smoker.
Anyone with a hoarse voice who smokes or is an ex smoker should not hesitate to have their throat and voicebox examined carefully as the chances of cancer or pre-cancer changes are much higher than in a non-smoker.
In addition to a persistent hoarse voice, other specific “red flag” danger symptoms of throat cancer to watch out for include:
- persistent sore throat
- feeling of something stuck inside the throat
- noisy breathing
- difficulty swallowing food and/or water,...
Dear Lee Yien,
You can try and persuade your dad to seek help by trying to assuage his fears. Fearing it is a cancer, he may not want to seek treatment.
You can let him know that most of the time, the hoarseness can be from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which happens more in elderly, if there are irregular or late meals, intake of too much alcohol and sour, fried, oily or spicy foods.
After a simple flexible scope that goes through the nose down the throat, which really takes only 1 minute, the diagnosis is made in the clinic. I use a baby scope for adults who are worried about discomfort - it is only 2 mm in diameter, thinner than a noodle!
The patients are usually really surprised at how easy and pain free it is, and...