Laryngeal cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the larynx. The larynx is a tube-shaped organ inside the neck that lies between the throat and the windpipe. Its main function is to produce sound for speaking.
Cancer occurs when cells in the body (in this case laryngeal cells) divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue forms, called a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors, which can invade nearby tissues and can spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor does not invade or spread.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
Risk factors include:
Symptoms may include:
These symptoms may also be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you are experiencing these symptoms, see your healthcare provider.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Tests may include:
Once laryngeal cancer is found, staging tests are performed to find out if the cancer has spread and, if so, to what extent. Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer. For early stage laryngeal cancer, either surgery or radiation alone is the most common and appropriate therapies offered. For more advanced disease, either radiation (with chemotherapy) or surgery followed by radiation is the most common treatment given.
Surgery requires removal of a cancerous tumor and nearby tissue, and possibly nearby lymph nodes. Surgeries for laryngeal cancer include:
Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This may be external radiation therapy, where the beam is directed at the tumor from a source outside the body.
Since laryngeal cancer is extremely rare in nonsmokers, the best way to prevent this type of cancer is by not smoking. Other measures you can take to reduce your risk of laryngeal cancer include:
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
BC Cancer Agency
Canadian Cancer Society
American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/.
The Merck Manual of Medical Information. Simon and Schuster; 2000.
National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.nci.nih.gov/.
Last reviewed November 2008 by
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