Throat Cancer

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What to expect

Throat cancer

Throat cancer is a term which groups together many different types of cancer and so it important to get an exact diagnosis and use this as a guide only. Throat cancer can affect the larynx and the vocal cords as well as other areas of the throat cavity. It is important to realise that all cancers will be treated differently depending upon where they started. For example, a treatment for cancer of the vocal cords will not be treated in the same way as cancer of the oral cavity. Throat cancer most commonly occurs in people over 60 years of age and is four times more likely to occur in men than women. A persistent hoarse voice can be an early indicator.

Speech and language therapy will help individuals with throat cancer by supporting their specific speech, language, communication and swallowing needs. Speech and language therapy will offer individualised treatment plans depending on the specific needs and abilities of the patient and also the type of cancer they have.

What is throat cancer?

Throat cancer is a term used for the development of cancerous tumours in the voice box, tonsils, vocal cords or throat cavity. It is most common in men over 60 years of age and risk factors include excessive drinking and smoking. Symptoms of the disease can depend on the size of the tumour and where it is located. The following are some possible symptoms of throat cancer:

  • Hoarse voice
  • Lump in throat / neck
  • Feeling of something being in your throat and making it sore
  • Persistent cough
  • Respiratory problems
  • Weight loss

Although these are symptoms of throat cancer, there are many other contributing factors. Cancer must be diagnosed by a doctor.

What causes throat cancer?

Many different things can cause throat cancer and raise the risk of having cancer. There is not one specific cause of the disease and people who have similar symptoms may not always develop cancer. Some of the most common risk factors are:

  • Excessive alcohol drinking
  • Excessive smoking
  • Over 60 years of age
  • Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) infection
  • Exposure to excessive dust in the workplace

It is important to seek medical advice as the above are simply risk factors and do not independently cause cancer.

What problems caused by throat cancer can speech and language therapy help with?

Speech and language therapy may help with the following areas caused by throat cancer:

Speech and language therapy can be received both pre and post an operation and will include a personalised approach to therapy. This will give the therapist a chance to assess the difficulties arising from both communication and swallowing, and will give an idea of what therapy intervention is best for that person with throat cancer.

How does speech and language therapy help throat cancer?

Speech and language therapy can help people who suffer from throat cancer in many different ways. This can be before or after surgery and will depend upon severity and location of the tumour. Speech and language therapists will develop strategies for speech intelligibility and will ensure each therapy plan is individualised and specific to each person receiving treatment. This programme will often be coupled with rehab and aims to achieve the best possible communication for each individual.

There are many benefits of speech and language therapy for people who have throat cancer, some are listed below:

What would speech and language therapy treatment for throat cancer involve?

Speech and language therapy for throat cancer may involve treatment using one or more of the following methods:

Specific treatment for throat cancer may include:

An initial assessment will be carried out by one of our speech and language therapists. This will highlight any worries and difficulties concerning communication and speech. It will also provide a chance for you to share any concerns you may have, and allow you to discuss what you would like to work on and improve.

How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment?

To arrange an assessment with one our speech and language therapists please email or call 0330 0885 643.


Speech and language therapy can be highly beneficial when a patient is receiving treatment for throat cancer. Therapy can be done either before or after surgery and will include an individualised treatment plan. Throat cancer can affect many different parts of the throat cavity, it is important to get a proper diagnosis in order for treatment to be best suited to the type of cancer depending upon the size of tumour and location. To book an appointment please email or call 0330 0885 643.

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To speak to a Speech and Language Therapist or to book an appointment, call us on 0161 883 0111 or email


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