Your voice and head and neck radiotherapy | Cancer Research UK
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Your voice and head and neck radiotherapy

Nurse and patients talking about cancer

This page tells you about how radiotherapy to the head and neck area may affect your voice. You can find out about


Voice changes and radiotherapy

If you have radiotherapy treatment to your voice box for cancer of the larynx, your voice may get hoarse or husky. It could disappear completely for a while during and after the treatment. It should come back within a few weeks but may never be quite the same as it was.

Radiotherapy for other types of head and neck cancers may make your voice change a little during and for a few weeks after the treatment. But your voice should go back to normal once your treatment is finished.


Communicating if you lose your voice

You may find it useful to carry a small notebook and pen so that you can always write notes to people if you need to. Laptop computers, tiny typewriters, electronic notebooks or electronic keyboards are other ways you can communicate. A number of small portable machines are available. Your speech and language therapist can advise you on which may suit you best.


Getting more information about radiotherapy

We have detailed information about external radiotherapy in this section. There is also detailed information about the side effects of radiotherapy. We have pages about the other possible side effects of radiotherapy to the head and neck, including

You can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They will be happy to answer any questions that you have.

Our general organisations page gives details of people who can provide information about radiotherapy. Some organisations can put you in touch with a cancer support group. Our cancer and treatments reading list has information about books, leaflets and other resources about radiotherapy treatment.

If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use Cancer Chat, our online forum.

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Updated: 12 May 2014