Throat cancer

How we can help people with throat cancer

Throat cancer is a term which groups together many different types of cancer and so it is 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:

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:

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 SLT UK help with?

Speech and language therapy may help with any speech sound, communication, swallowing and voice problems caused by throat cancer.

Speech and language therapy can be received both before and after 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.

Speech and language therapy can benefit individuals with throat cancer in many ways, including improving their communication and swallowing, increasing their independence, increasing self-esteem and quality of life.

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

Speech and language therapy for throat cancer may involve treatment using assessments, reviews, reports, therapy programmes, training, advice and education.

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.


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.

If you feel you may benefit from speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email or call 0330 088 5643.

Related pages

Voice problems Throat cancer Laryngeal surgery Vocal cord paralysis Tension of the vocal cords Strain of the vocal cords Vocal cord nodules Laryngeal problems Dysphonia Oesophageal voice Hoarse voice Pitch disorders Painful voice Stammering Weak voice
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