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Laryngeal Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Nov 9, 2023

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Causes Of Laryngeal Cancer

What symptoms indicate laryngeal cancer?

Risk Factors Of Laryngeal Cancer

How is laryngeal cancer diagnosed?

Stages Of Laryngeal Cancer

How is cancer of the larynx treated?


Prevention Of Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Laryngeal cancer impacts the larynx, which is a part of the throat. Swallowing, breathing, and speaking are made easier by your larynx. Vocal chords from you are inside it.

Laryngeal cancer can be caused by unchecked cell development in the throat. When these cancerous (malignant) cells proliferate, they pierce tissues and damage your body.

Laryngeal cancer can arise from any of the three main areas of the larynx:

  • The supraglottis is the upper region where 35 per cent of laryngeal tumours start.
  • The glottis is where your vocal cords are located, and it is where 60% of laryngeal cancers start.
  • subglottis: This is where about 5% of instances, or 1 in 20 cases, of laryngeal malignancies start.

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Causes Of Laryngeal Cancer

Certain strains of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause laryngeal cancer.

Additionally, people who routinely smoke or drink alcohol are significantly more prone to experience it.

Also Read: Earwax Blockage: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

What symptoms indicate laryngeal cancer?

Early laryngeal cancer symptoms might readily be mistaken for those of other conditions. The most common symptom, persistent hoarseness that lasts for several weeks, is often misdiagnosed as a cold. If you have any of the following symptoms, consult a medical expert so they can make an accurate diagnosis:

  • Continuous coughing or sore throat.
  • Changes in voice, such as hoarseness, that persist for more than two weeks.
  • Pain or other swallowing-related problems.
  • A lump in your neck or throat.
  • Dysphonia is the inability to produce vocal sounds.
  • Earache.

Get medical attention right away if you encounter any of the following symptoms:

  • Breathing problems (dyspnea).
  • Noisy and high-pitched breathing (stridor).
  • Globus feeling,

Also Read: Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

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Risk Factors Of Laryngeal Cancer

Smoking and other tobacco products greatly raise your risk of laryngeal cancer. Alcohol consumption also raises your risk, especially when it's excessive (more than one drink per day). Furthermore, using tobacco products and alcohol together increases your risk even further.

Other factors that increase the risk of laryngeal carcinoma include:

  • Age: The risk of laryngeal cancer is higher in those 55 years of age and older.
  • Sex: Men and those assigned male at birth are five times more likely to acquire this cancer; this may be because smoking and heavy alcohol consumption are more common in this group.
  • History of head and neck cancer: 25% of those who have had the illness will go on to have more episodes.
  • Occupation: Workers who handle certain chemicals have an increased risk of injury. During manufacture, these materials include mustard gas, nickel, wood dust, asbestos, and sulfuric acid mist. In addition, people who use machines have a higher chance of developing laryngeal cancer.

Also Read: Nasal Fracture (Broken Nose): Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

How is laryngeal cancer diagnosed?

A medical practitioner will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. They will perform a physical examination, looking at your throat and neck. Following the initial assessment, additional testing will probably be necessary to confirm a diagnosis.

The diagnostic procedures include:

  • Imaging scans: An MRI or CT scan can provide you with a comprehensive picture of your internal organs. They can show where a tumour is located and how big it is. If the cancer has spread to the lungs, it can be seen via a chest X-ray.
  • Laryngoscopy: During a laryngoscopy, a medical practitioner uses an endoscope, which is a thin, illuminated tube, to examine your larynx.
  • PET scan: During a PET scan, a medical practitioner will inject a small, safe dose of a radioactive substance into your vein. The content highlights malignant cell growth.
  • Biopsy: During a biopsy, a physician removes a small piece of abnormal tissue from your larynx in order to examine it under a microscope. A pathologist is a specialist who examines cells and looks for specific protein markers. Only cancer cells exhibiting specific protein markers can be targeted by some cancer treatments.

Also Read: Empty Nose Syndrome Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, & Diagnosis

Stages Of Laryngeal Cancer

One step in the diagnosis process is staging the malignancy. Your medical team will assess the tumour's growth and identify whether and where it has affected the tissues in your body.

The stages of laryngeal cancer consist of:

  • Laryngeal carcinoma in its early stages: During stages 0, 1, and 2, tumour size is small. Cancer has not damaged your larynx.
  • Advanced laryngeal cancer stages 3 and 4: The tumour is now larger. It has spread to other areas of your body, injured your voice chords, or contaminated your lymph nodes.

How is cancer of the larynx treated?

Treatment for laryngeal carcinoma involves:

  • Radiation therapy: High-energy radiation beams are used by radiation oncologists to kill cancer cells. The radiation only targets the cancer to minimise damage to adjacent healthy tissue.
  • Chemotherapy: Medical oncologists employ medications to either eradicate or stop the spread of cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often given intravenously, or through a vein. You can get help from an oncologist to manage the side effects of chemotherapy.
  • Immunotherapy: This drug uses the immune system, one of your body's natural defences, to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is also known as biological therapy.
  • Targeted treatment is a medical intervention that stops the growth of cancer cells by focusing on specific protein types.
  • Early-stage laryngeal cancer tumours can be removed surgically, sparing your larynx and preserving your ability to swallow and talk. In cases of severe malignancy, surgeons often have to conduct a laryngectomy, which is the removal of the entire larynx.

You could receive more than one kind of treatment. For example, patients may have chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to get rid of any remaining cancer cells.


Surgery is used to remove cancer. The goal of laryngeal cancer surgery is to remove the tumour while preserving laryngeal function. The surgeon may need to remove all or part of your larynx. Surgical methods include:

  • During a cordectomy, the voice cord is usually removed entirely or in part.
  • The supraglottis, or upper portion of the larynx, is removed during a supraglottic laryngectomy via the mouth or neck.
  • A hemilaryngectomy removes half of your larynx, preserving your voice.
  • A partial laryngectomy removes a section of the larynx to preserve the voice.
  • During a total laryngectomy, the entire larynx is removed from your neck.
  • Thyroidectomy: Complete or partial excision of the thyroid gland.
  • Through laser surgery, cancer can be eliminated without the need for blood, just a laser beam.

Prevention Of Laryngeal Cancer

Not every cancer is preventable. However, you can lower your risk of developing cancer, particularly laryngeal cancer, by forming these beneficial habits:

  • Quit smoking and avoid products containing tobacco.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption and get treatment for your alcohol addiction.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.

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