A change in voice producing hoarseness is a common complaint but not one to be completely dismissed. Most of us develop some hoarseness in association with an uper respiratory tract infection however, if hoarseness persists past 4 weeks it does require further investigation.
In your general practice / family practice your local doctor can assess your upper throat. They can also assess your risk factors too. An urgent referral is sensible for patients with hoarseness who are smokers and high / regular alcohol intakers. These patients are more at risk of developing a laryngeal cancer and should be seen if suspicious by a surgeon who is part of a head and neck cancer centre.
Not all hoarseness is cancer, however, and there are other conditions that are benign such as nodules, vocal cord polyps and laryngititis that can be diagnosed at a ENT consultation rapidly. Occasionally an examination under anaesthetic is neccesary to look at the larynx under magnification and this is referred to as a microlaryngoscopy.