Listen To Your Voice: Changes could mean danger

Armen Hareyan's picture

Simple steps can protect your voice, and help you recognize signs of trouble

ANN ARBOR, MI -Alice Lundsten thought it was just a cough that wouldn't go away. But it turned out to be much more than that.

Sounding hoarse, and feeling like there was something stuck in her throat, Alice went to her doctor for a checkup. The doctor suspected something was wrong but couldn't see it, so she sent Alice to a specialist.

And that's when Alice learned she had cancer: on one of her vocal cords.


After laser microsurgery to remove the tumor, and voice therapy to optimize the quality of her voice, Alice is sounding so good that she's been able to work as a church receptionist. But her experience should be a lesson for others, she warns.

"It would've been helpful if I had listened to my own voice earlier and gone to the doctor" sooner, she says. "Now I know that that's the thing to do, not to wait."

The voice specialist who discovered and treated Alice's cancer couldn't agree more.

"She's the perfect example of why it's important to pay attention to a voice change," says Norman D. Hogikyan, M.D., F.A.C.S., who heads the University of Michigan's Vocal Health Center. "People need to be aware that a voice change can indicate health problems."

He notes that voice specialists have designated April 16 as World Voice Day to bring attention to the many voice problems that can occur, and ways to prevent them. Hogikyan is heading World Voice Day efforts in the United States through the American Academy of Otolaryngology