The symptoms of cancer vary widely and depend on the type of the disease in question. Most people are aware of some of the symptoms of the disease, such as a lump, but there are a whole host of other symptoms which are much less obvious. There are over 200 types of cancer, and more than one in three people in the UK will develop one at some point in their lifetime. It’s therefore important to be aware of any unexplained changes to your body, even something as subtle as a croaky or hoarse voice.
A croaky voice is usually not a cause for concern, and often happens when you have a cold, cough or sore throat.
But if you have a croaky or hoarse voice that doesn’t go away, it could be a sign of cancers including lung cancer.
“Having a croaky voice or feeling hoarse can be common with colds. But a croaky voice that hasn’t gone away on its own should be checked out by your doctor,” said Cancer Research UK.
In lung cancer, a croaky or hoarse voice is usually a sign the disease has advanced and is not often present in the early stages.
Other main symptoms of lung cancer include a persistent cough, a long-standing cough that gets worse, breathlessness, chest pain and ongoing chest infections.
Coughing up blood, loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, difficulty swallowing and constant tiredness are also symptoms.
If you have any of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you have lung cancer, but it’s better to get them checked out in case.
“Tell your doctor or specialist nurse if you’re worried about a symptom or if it continues for more than a few days,” advised Cancer Research.
Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK, with around 85,000 people having received a diagnosis.
Aside from lung cancer, a croaky or hoarse voice is also a symptom of a less common type of cancer affecting the larynx. This is called laryngeal cancer.
According to Cancer Research, one of the most common symptoms of laryngeal cancer is hoarseness in the voice that lasts for more than three weeks.
Other symptoms of laryngeal cancer are difficulty swallowing, unintended weight loss, a persistent cough, breathlessness and a feeling there’s a lump in your throat.
A croaky or hoarse voice can also be caused by other non-cancerous conditions, such as acute laryngitis. This is a condition in which the larynx becomes inflamed.
Laryngitis usually happens due to a cold, a chest infection or over use of the voice, such as shouting or screaming.
In addition, smoking can cause hoarseness because it irritates the throat lining, while acid reflux, allergies, thyroid problems and injury can also lead to a hoarse or croaky voice.
“You should see your doctor if you have a hoarse voice for more than three weeks. Remember that it’s more likely to be due to a cough or irritation than cancer,” said Cancer Research.