Cancerous and precancerous growths of the vocal cords continue to be a major cause of chronic hoarseness. While these growths predominantly affect smokers, they also occur in non-smokers. Often non-smokers may have other risk factors, including second-hand smoke, occupational chemical or irritant exposure. Any hoarseness lasting more than 4 weeks absolutely needs to be investigated with an otolaryngologist.
Approximatley 12,000 people are diagnosed with voice box cancer annually in the United States. If diagnosed early and treated with either surgery or radiation, the cure rate is excellent.