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Conditions We Treat: Vocal Cord Cancer

Most cancer experts agree that vocal cord cancer likely starts as small areas of abnormal cells (dysplasia) that undergoes sequential changes that ultimately leads to the development of cancer. Pre-cancerous lesions may appear as a white or red plaque (called leukoplakia or erythroplakia) on the vocal cord, and indicate that a biopsy or removal of the lesion needs to be done to rule-out the presence of cancer. Research indicates that removing pre-cancerous lesions reduces the risk of developing cancer.

Vocal Cord Cancer: What You Need to Know

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  • Symptoms of vocal cord cancer include a sore throat, sensation of something stuck in throat, voice change, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing with associated weight loss, and the appearance of one or more lumps that can be felt in the neck.
  • The treatment recommendation will often vary depending on the location and size of the tumor but often includes surgery and radiation therapy.
  • Vocal cord cancer is very closely linked with a history of smoking.
  • If you have voice changes that last for three weeks or longer, especially with a history of smoking, you should be evaluated to rule out the presence of a lesion on your voice box.
  • An estimated 10,000 cases of vocal cord cancer are diagnosed each year, and close to 3,800 people die in the United States each year because of this disease.

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Why Choose Johns Hopkins for Vocal Cord Cancer?

Johns Hopkins Voice Center Doctors

Our Physicians

Rely on the expertise of our physicians to treat vocal cord cancer.

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Our Patient Education

Dr. Lee Akst, Director of the Johns Hopkins Voice Center, answers some of the most frequently asked questions.

Watch our Voice Center FAQ video.