Voice Quality and Laryngeal Findings in Patients With Suspected Lung Cancer

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2022 Jan;166(1):133-138. doi: 10.1177/01945998211008382. Epub 2021 Apr 20.


Objective: To describe laryngeal findings and voice quality in patients with suspected lung cancer, relative to voice quality and possible laryngeal pathology.

Study design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Tertiary care center.

Methods: Patients with known or suspected lung cancer were approached before planned thoracic surgery, and they completed acoustic analysis, the Voice-Related Quality of Life (V-RQOL) questionnaire, and stroboscopy. The prevalence of dysphonia, V-RQOL and Cepstral Spectral Index of Dysphonia (CSID) scores, and laryngeal findings were examined and compared between patients ultimately found to have lung cancer and those without cancer.

Results: Sixty-one patients (45 cancer, 16 noncancer) were analyzed. Patients with cancer were older than those without (mean ± SD, 72.3 ± 9.94 vs 62.6 ± 9.30 years; P = .001). Otherwise, the distribution of stroboscopy findings, acoustic measures, and self-reported voice handicap were similar between the cancer and noncancer cohorts. Prior to surgery, no patients had vocal cord paralysis or obvious neoplasm, though 4 (6.56%) had leukoplakia and 28 (45.9%) had vocal fold movement asymmetry on stroboscopy. Overall, 21 patients (35.0%) had average CSID scores >19, and 13 (21.7%) had CSID scores >24; however, only 4 self-described their voice as not working as it should, and only 2 had a V-RQOL score <85.

Conclusion: Patients with suspected lung cancer have moderate dysphonia on acoustic measures, though self-reported impact on quality of life is low. While leukoplakia was seen in 4 patients, obvious neoplasm and occult paralysis were not seen in this cohort. Together, these findings suggest that patients with suspected lung cancer should be assessed for subjective voice dysfunction, but routine laryngeal screening may otherwise be unnecessary.

Keywords: leukoplakia; lung cancer; videolaryngostroboscopy; voice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dysphonia / diagnosis
  • Dysphonia / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Concept
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stroboscopy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Voice Quality*