What are Vocal Cord Tumors?

Vocal cord tumors, also known as vocal fold tumors or vocal fold lesions, are abnormal growths or masses that develop on the vocal cords, the delicate bands of tissue in the larynx (voice box). These tumors can manifest in various forms, including benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) growths. 

Benign vocal cord lesions, such as nodules, polyps, and cysts, are more common and typically result from vocal misuse, overuse, or trauma. Malignant tumors, such as squamous cell carcinoma, can also arise on the vocal cords, posing a serious threat to vocal function and overall health.

What Causes Vocal Cord Tumors?

Vocal Strain:

Prolonged or excessive use of the voice, such as shouting, screaming, or singing, can lead to vocal cord trauma and the development of benign lesions.

Smoking and Alcohol Use:

Tobacco and alcohol consumption are significant risk factors for the development of malignant vocal cord tumors, particularly squamous cell carcinoma.

Vocal Cord Trauma:

Injury or trauma to the vocal cords, often resulting from chronic coughing, throat clearing, or intubation, can contribute to vocal cord lesions.

Viral Infections:

Certain viral infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV), have been linked to developing malignant tumors in the larynx, including the vocal cords.

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What Are the Symptoms of Vocal Cord Tumors?

Hoarseness or Changes in Voice Quality:

Persistent hoarseness, roughness, or raspiness of the voice that does not improve with rest or vocal hygiene measures.

Voice Fatigue:

Easily tiring or experiencing vocal fatigue when speaking or singing for an extended period.

Breathing Difficulties:

Difficulty breathing or noisy breathing due to vocal cord obstruction of a tumor.

Throat Pain or Discomfort:

Pain or discomfort in the throat, neck, or ears, often accompanied by swallowing difficulties.

Persistent Cough:

Chronic or persistent coughing, throat clearing, or the sensation of a lump in the throat.

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How Are Vocal Cord Tumors Diagnosed?

Diagnosing vocal cord tumors requires a thorough evaluation by an ENT specialist, including:

  • Laryngoscopy: Examination of the vocal cords using a laryngoscope, a thin, flexible instrument equipped with a camera, to visualize any abnormalities.
  • Biopsy: Removal of a small tissue sample (biopsy) from the vocal cord lesion for laboratory analysis to determine its nature (benign or malignant).

What is the Treatment for Vocal Cord Tumors?

Treatment for vocal cord tumors depends on the lesion's type, size, location, and malignant potential, as well as the patient's overall health and vocal needs. Treatment options may include:

Voice Therapy:

Behavioral therapy techniques to improve vocal habits, reduce vocal strain, and optimize vocal function.


Minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as micro flap excision or laser surgery, to remove benign vocal cord lesions while preserving vocal function.

Radiation Therapy:

High-energy radiation beams targeted at the tumor to destroy cancer cells and shrink malignant lesions.


Systemic or local administration of anticancer drugs to inhibit the growth and spread of malignant tumors in the vocal cords.


Surgical removal of malignant vocal cord tumors is often accompanied by neck dissection or lymph node removal for advanced or recurrent cancers.

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Why Choose Us?

At Southern ENT Associates, our team of board-certified ENT specialists and head and neck surgeons has extensive experience in diagnosing and managing vocal cord tumors. We utilize state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, advanced surgical techniques, and personalized treatment plans to address each patient's unique needs and restore optimal vocal health and function. With a patient-centered approach and a commitment to excellence, we strive to achieve the best possible outcomes for individuals with vocal cord tumors.

Vocal Cord Tumors FAQ

What are the risk factors for developing vocal cord tumors?

Risk factors for vocal cord tumors include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, vocal misuse or overuse, viral infections (such as HPV), and genetic predisposition.

Can vocal cord tumors be prevented?

While some risk factors for vocal cord tumors, such as smoking and alcohol use, can be minimized through lifestyle changes, others, like viral infections, may be more difficult to prevent. Practicing vocal hygiene and avoiding vocal strain may help reduce the risk of benign lesions.

How are vocal cord tumors diagnosed?

Diagnosis typically involves a laryngoscopy to visualize the vocal cords and may include a biopsy to determine the nature of the lesion. Additional imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRIs, may be ordered to assess the extent of the tumor.

What are the treatment options for vocal cord tumors?

Treatment depends on the type, size, and location of the tumor. Options include voice therapy, microsurgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery. The goal is to remove or shrink the tumor while preserving vocal function.

What is the prognosis for vocal cord tumors?

The prognosis varies depending on factors such as tumor type, stage, and response to treatment. Benign lesions typically have a good prognosis with appropriate management. Malignant tumors may require more aggressive treatment and may carry a higher risk of recurrence or metastasis.

With 6 convenient locations in Southern Louisiana, we make accessing the treatment you need easy.

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