Popular Common Cancers

Laryngeal Cancer


Laryngeal cancer, also known as cancer of the larynx or laryngeal carcinoma, are mostly squamous cell carcinomas, reflecting their origin from the skin of the larynx.

Cancer can develop in any part of the larynx, but the cure rate is affected by the location of the tumour. For the purposes of tumour staging, the larynx is divided into three anatomical regions: the glottis (true vocal cords, anterior and posterior commissures); the supraglottis (epiglottis, arytenoids and aryepiglottic folds, and false cords); and the subglottis.

Most laryngeal cancers originate in the glottis. Supraglottic cancers are less common, and subglottic tumours are least frequent.

Laryngeal cancer may spread by direct extension to adjacent structures, by metastasis to regional cervical lymph nodes, or more distantly, through the blood stream. Distant metastases to the lung are most common. In 2013 it resulted in 88,000 deaths up from 76,000 deaths in 1990. Five year survival rates in the United States are 60%.

The symptoms of laryngeal cancer depend on the size and location of the tumour. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Hoarseness or other voice changes
  • A lump in the neck
  • A sore throat or feeling that something is stuck in the throat
  • Persistent cough
  • Stridor - a high-pitched wheezing sound indicative of a narrowed or obstructed airway
  • Bad breath
  • Earache ("referred")
  • Difficulty swallowing

Treatment effects can include post-operative changes in appearance, difficulty eating, or loss of voice that may require learning alternate methods of speaking.

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