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Risk Factors for Vocal Cord Cancer

Hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with vocal cord cancer annually. While the cause of this cancer is still unknown, the majority of people who develop vocal cord cancer have a history of exposure to similar risk factors. As it pertains to singing, these same risk factors for vocal cord cancer are also the cause of voice disorders. 

Read below to learn about the risk factors for vocal cord cancer:


First, what is vocal cord cancer?

Vocal cord cancer is a malignant tumor originating in the vocal cords. This cancer is more commonly known as laryngeal cancer, which refers to the place where the vocal cords are located. Of the different types of laryngeal cancers, most start at the vocal cords. 

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First, what is vocal cord cancer?

Vocal cord cancer is a malignant tumor originating in the vocal cords. This cancer is more commonly known as laryngeal cancer, which refers to the place where the vocal cords are located. Of the different types of laryngeal cancers, most start at the vocal cords. 

Risk Factors for Vocal Cord Cancer

This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are some factors within your control to avoid:

Smoking, tobacco/marijuana products. The majority of people diagnosed with laryngeal cancer have a history of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.

Alcohol, especially heavy alcohol consumption. Alcohol also greatly increases the cancer-causing effect of smoking.

Acid reflux. Studies in recent years are suggesting GERD may be a risk factor for laryngeal cancers. Additionally, reflux is also a common source of voice disorders.

Exposure to harmful substances such as asbestos, paint fumes, and wood dust. Exhaust from industrial machinery is also included in this category.

Diet and poor nutrition. This factor is also a cause of acid reflux. Some sources claim up to 45% of their laryngeal cancer patients are lacking healthy foods in their diets.

To learn more, check out the Laryngeal Cancer pages from the American Cancer Society.

Symptoms of Vocal Cord Cancer

Laryngeal cancer is often diagnosed in its early stages because it produces persistent hoarseness of the voice. Other symptoms include trouble swallowing, a chronic sore throat/cough that won’t subside, and dysphonia. Certain symptoms should get immediate medical attention such as trouble breathing or coughing up blood. 

Make the Right Decisions

Vocal cord cancer poses a real threat to your life, health, and well-being. Its risk factors also pose a threat to your overall vocal health. Lower your risk of developing this cancer by avoiding risk factors that are within your control.


Benny Meza is a Master Associate at Brett Manning Studios in Nashville, TN. He’s taught over 7,000 vocal lessons and has worked with clients from Warner Music, RCA, Universal Music Group, and many others.

Book a Skype or in-person lesson with Benny today!

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