Non-cancerous conditions of the larynx

A non-cancerous (benign) condition of the larynx is a change to laryngeal cells, but it is not cancer. Non-cancerous conditions do not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body and are not usually life-threatening.

Non-cancerous conditions of the larynx include:

  • laryngitis
  • vocal cord nodules
  • contact granulomas
  • vocal cord cysts
  • vocal cord polyps
  • laryngeal papillomatosis

Risk factors

The following risk factors increase your chance of developing a non-cancerous condition of the larynx:

  • smoking
  • overuse or misuse of the voice (such as excessive speaking or singing, speaking in an improper pitch or constant shouting)
  • acid reflux
  • postnasal drip
  • inhaling irritants
  • constant coughing

HPV infection increases the risk for laryngeal papillomatosis.


The symptoms of non-cancerous conditions of the larynx include:

  • hoarseness
  • a weak or breathy voice
  • trouble breathing
  • noisy breathing
  • pain when swallowing or speaking


If you have symptoms or your doctor thinks you might have a non-cancerous condition, you will be sent for tests. Tests used to diagnose or rule out non-cancerous conditions or laryngeal cancer include:

  • a physical exam
  • a laryngoscopy
  • a biopsy

Find out more about physical exams, a laryngoscopy and biopsies.


Treatment options for non-cancerous conditions of the larynx include:

  • avoiding the cause such as smoking, loud speaking or improper singing
  • voice therapy
  • medicines to reduce acid reflux
  • surgical removal

Expert review and references

  • American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. Nodules, Polyps, and Cysts.
  • Cancer Research UK. Types of laryngeal cancer. Cancer Research UK; 2015:
  • Mendenhall WM, Werning JW, Pfister DG . Cancer of the head and neck. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 38: 422-473.
  • Sasaki CT . Overview of laryngeal disorders. Beers, M. H., & Berkow, R., (Eds.). Merck Manual Professional Edition. 2016:

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

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