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The most common symptoms of throat polyps are a hoarse or deeper voice or a breathy sounding voice similar to laryngitis. Most people who have them do not display any symptoms and even larger polyps are rarely felt. Polyps are noncancerous growths which appear in the throat, usually on the vocal cords. In some cases pain may be present at the time of diagnosis, but this is typically caused from another condition, often the same condition which led to polyps.
Those who use their voices continuously, such as lecturers or professional singers, are at a higher risk of developing throat polyps. Smokers may also be at an increased risk. Polyps are fleshy lumps which grow on the surface of the mucus membranes in the throat, although they usually occur on the vocal cords and the layer of tissue surrounding them. When they reach a very large size, throat polyps may cause hoarseness or a breathy sounding voice.
Unlike polyps found in the colon, throat polyps do not necessarily mean someone is at a high risk of cancer. Risk factors for throat growths may be similar to those which cause cancer, such as cigarette smoke or excessive alcohol consumption. Often, polyps in the throat are never noticed and they may fall off on their own and then exit the body through the digestive tract.
Large throat polyps which cause symptoms may need to be surgically removed. This is generally a simple operation, although therapy to regain full function of the vocal cords may be needed. In lesser cases patients may simply be advised to stop using their voices for weeks at a time. This gives the vocal cords time to rest and the polyps may shrink and disappear over time.
Since throat polyps have many of the same symptoms of throat cancer, it is important that anyone who notices a marked change in the tone of his or her voice or who is experiencing long-term hoarseness to seek the advice of a doctor. Throat cancers are relatively rare in those who do not smoke or chew tobacco, but may occur even in those with no known risks. Most of the time another benign cause will be to blame for symptoms, such as allergies, the common cold, or overuse of the voice.
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