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Smoking and your voice box

Smoking can lead to removal of your voice box due to cancer. This can drastically impact your life. The best way to reduce your risk is to stop smoking. We're here to help.

Smoking is a major cause of 16 types of cancer including laryngeal cancer, or cancer of the voice box. People who smoke are much more likely to get this type of cancer. 

Laryngeal cancer can lead to removing a person's voice box. Removal of the voice box - or a laryngectomy - is one of the most life-changing operations a person can have. 

Watch Dr Hamish Mace talk about what happens when you have your voice box removed:

For the full-length version of the Voice Box television advertisement, visit our YouTube channel (WARNING: contains graphic medical content).

Visit the Voice Box Campaign Hub for shareable content.

Fast facts

If you smoke, you're much more likely to get cancer of the voice box (laryngeal cancer):

  • People who smoke are 9x more likely to get laryngeal cancer. 

  • Almost 80% of laryngeal cancers are caused by smoking.

Having your voice box removed drastically impacts your life:

  • After surgery, air will pass through a hole in your neck (called a stoma). This can affect your sense of smell and taste. 

  • You need to avoid getting water in the stoma, as it leads directly into your windpipe and down to your lungs. This means you can't go swimming, and showering becomes difficult.

  • Your speech will also be affected - without vocal cords you can’t raise your voice, so cheering or singing loudly is no longer possible.

The benefits of stopping smoking first

Dr Mace explains the important benefits of stopping smoking before surgery. He says, if a person stops during cancer treatment, they have a 50% higher chance of surviving.

Wherever you are on your quitting journey, we're here to help

The best thing you can do to reduce your risk of laryngeal cancer - and for your overall health - is to stop smoking.

The best way to stop smoking is with support from a Quitline (13 7848) counsellor and stop smoking medication. You don't have to be ready to quit to chat with a Quitline counsellor. It's also a good idea to chat with your doctor. They can discuss your options and give you a script for cheaper stop smoking medication. See: What to ask your GP.

Quitline counsellors can offer you free advice and support to help you stop smoking and/or vaping. They will work with you to help you build and keep up your motivation, create a plan that works for you, and guide and encourage you along the way. Quitline counsellors can also support you if you are using vapes to stop smoking. 

There are many ways to get in touch with Quitline 13 7848. Hit the button below for more detail: 

Ways to get in touch

Please note,this information is for general use only.  Please consult your health professional for further advice.  

If you would like to provide feedback, please contact 

Last updated March 2024 

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