Laryngeal Cancer: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Overview

Laryngeal cancer is a rare cancer where malignant cells form in the tissues of the larynx. The larynx is your voice box, which contains cartilage and muscles that enable you to talk. This type of cancer can damage people’s voice. When not treated quickly, it may spread to other parts of the body.

It is a rare type of head and neck cancer. The condition is more common in people over the age of 60 and more common in men than women.

According to the National Cancer Institute, head and neck cancers account for 4 percent of all cancers in the United States.

Causes

Laryngeal cancer typically occurs when healthy cells are damaged and begin to overgrow. These cells can turn into tumors. The mutations that damage cells in the larynx are most often due to smoking.

Other potential risk factors include:

  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Poor nutrition
  • Immune system problems
  • Exposure to toxins, such as asbestos
  • Certain genetic diseases (such as Fanconi anemia)
  • HPV (Human papillomavirus)
  • Gender (Men are five times more likely to get it than women)
  • Age (Most people get diagnosed after 65)
  • Race (African American men are at the biggest risk)

Symptoms

One
of the most common symptoms of laryngeal cancer is a persistent hoarseness of
the voice. Other common symptoms and signs include:

  • Sore throat
  • Excessive coughing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Headache
  • Neck pain
  • Ear pain
  • A lump in the neck or throat
  • A change in the voice
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden weight loss

Diagnosis

To diagnose laryngeal cancer, the doctor will first do a physical exam to check for any lumps or abnormalities in the throat and use devices to get a closer look at your throat. If you have any symptoms and the doctor suspects that you have laryngeal cancer, several tests and procedures may be ordered.

For example, biopsy can collect a tissue sample to be examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells. It is the best way to know for sure if a tumor is cancer and what kind it is. The procedure may often be done with surgery, fine needles, or an endoscope.

Physical exam of the throat and neck is an exam to check the throat and neck for abnormal areas. The doctor will feel the inside of the mouth with a gloved finger and examine the mouth and throat with a small long-handled mirror and light.

Other investigative procedures include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerize tomography (CT scan), an X-ray barium swallow, or positron emission tomography (PET scan).

Treatment

The
treatment for laryngeal cancer depends upon the extent and seriousness of the
disease. There are some common treatment measures:

  • Surgery

Surgeries
for laryngeal cancer include endoscopic resection, partial laryngectomy, and
total laryngectomy. In the surgeries, the cancerous tumor and nearby tissue will
be removed.

  • Radiation therapy

Radiation
therapy can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. In external beam radiation
therapy, the doctor will direct a beam of radiation at the tumor in the neck. The
beam is powerful and can burn the skin and cancer cells, which can be painful.
Besides, 3-D radiation beam therapy and intensity-modulated radiotherapy may be
tailored to the specific shape of the tumor.

  • Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells and to enhance the effects of radiation therapy. It can be a highly effective treatment, but the side effects, such as hair loss and nausea, may be severe. Chemotherapy is often used in combination with other therapies.

Keywords: Laryngeal cancer.

Related Posts:

Head and Neck Cancer: Types and Treatment

What are the Remedies for a Sore Throat?

What are the Basics of Throat Cancer?

What are the Early Signs of Throat Cancer?

Yerba Mate — What is it & How to Use it

Leave a Reply