ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What Is Laryngeal or Larynx Cancer ?

Updated on March 21, 2019
Chin chin profile image

Chin chin holds a BS degree in food technology. She enjoys sharing important information about health and food-related topics.

The Larynx and Nearby Structures
The Larynx and Nearby Structures | Source

Laryngeal cancer refers to the cancer of the larynx and is more commonly called cancer of the throat. The larynx is the person's voice box located just below the pharynx or throat and at the top of the windpipe or trachea in the neck area. Because the larynx contains the vocal cords which are responsible for the production of a person's voice, laryngeal cancer is also sometimes referred to as vocal cord cancer.

In most cases of laryngeal cancer, the cancer cells begin in the glottis. The glottis is the middle part of the three main parts of the larynx where the vocal cords are found. Thus, this type of cancer is sometimes also called cancer of the glottis. The other two parts are the supraglottis (upper part) and the subglottis (lower part).

Can Larynx Cancer Spread?

As with any other type of cancer, there is the possibility that laryngeal cancer will spread or metastasize. Usually, the cancer cells spread to the nearby lymph nodes in the neck, to the back of the tongue, other parts of the throat and neck, the lungs and other parts of the body. Thus, it is of utmost importance that laryngeal cancer be detected as early as possible.

If detected early, 90% of patients can be cured. If it has spread to surrounding tissues or lymph nodes in the neck, 50 - 60% of patients can be cured. If it has metastasized to body parts outside the head and neck, the patient is no longer curable and treatment are administered just to prolong life.

Does Smoking Cause Larynx Cancer?

Smoking can cause larynx cancer.
Smoking can cause larynx cancer. | Source

What Causes Larynx Cancer?

Knowing some of the causes or risk factors associated with laryngeal cancer will help us be watchful about our health.

  • Laryngeal cancer is a second type of cancer commonly caused by smoking cigarette or tobacco. The first is lung cancer.
  • Combining smoking with excessive drinking of alcohol further increases the risk of developing laryngeal cancer.
  • Four times more men than women develop laryngeal cancer and most of them are within the age range of 50-55.
  • People who are African Americans and have a personal history of head and neck cancer are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer of the larynx.
  • Occupations which expose workers to sulfuric acid mist, nickel or asbestos increase the risk of laryngeal cancer.
  • Other factors that may increase the risk of getting laryngeal cancer include contacting certain viruses, having a diet low in vitamin A and having gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

What Does Larynx Cancer Feel or Look Like?

Symptoms of Laryngeal cancer

The following symptoms may or may not be caused by laryngeal cancer. If you are feeling any of the following, you should consult a doctor for proper diagnosis.

  • Abnormal (high-pitched) breathing sounds or problems breathing
  • Cough, sore throat, or hoarseness that does not get better in 1-2 weeks, even with antibiotics.
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • Pain, swelling or lumps in the neck or throat
  • Ear pain
  • Unintentional weight loss

How is Larynx Cancer Diagnosed?

Upon consultation with a doctor, he may perform a physical examination of the throat and neck. He will feel for swollen lymph nodes or lumps in the neck and check the throat using a small, long-handled mirror for abnormalities. Further tests to confirm and stage laryngeal cancer may be required such as

  • Laryngoscopy - a test using a laryngoscope (a thin, lighted tube) to examine the larynx.
  • Endoscopy - a test where an endoscope is inserted into the skin through a cut or an opening such as the mouth to examine the larynx. Tissue samples may be taken for biopsy.
  • Biopsy - cells or tissues are taken and viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
  • Cranial CT scan - a procedure using a computer linked to an x-ray machine which takes detailed pictures of the area under study. A dye may be injected into the vein or swallowed to highlight the organs or tissues.
  • MRI - is also called magnetic resonance imaging. It uses magnet, radio waves and a computer to take detailed pictures of the area under study.
  • Barium swallow - a procedure where the patient drinks a liquid containing barium. Afterwards, a series of x-rays of the esophagus and stomach are taken.

Treatment depends on how big is the tumor

Pea, peanut, walnut, and lime show tumor sizes.
Pea, peanut, walnut, and lime show tumor sizes. | Source

Can Laryngeal Cancer be Cured?

Treatment of Laryngeal Cancer

There are three common options employed in cancer treatment: surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The options that a particular cancer patient undergoes depends largely on his age, general health, the location and size of the tumor, and the stage of the cancer or whether it has recurred. Whatever treatment is made use of, studies show that the treatment is more likely to be effective and successful if the laryngeal cancer patient do not smoke nor drink.

When the tumor is still small, surgery or radiation therapy may be employed to remove the tumor and prevent it from spreading to the other parts of the body. But when the tumor has grown larger or has metastasized, both radiation and chemotherapy are used as treatment. Sometimes, a surgery removing the tumor including all of the vocal cords (total laryngectomy) or part of it (partial laryngectomy) is necessary.

Speech Therapy and Voice Restoration After Cancer Surgery

How does Laryngeal Cancer Affect the Body after Treatment?

After undergoing laryngeal cancer treatment, some of the side effects or complications that the patient may have include airway obstruction, dry mouth, sore throat or mouth, dental problems like tooth decay or delayed healing after dental care, changes in the sense of taste and smell, difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, loss of voice and speaking ability, skin changes in the neck, disfigurement of the neck or face, hair loss, pain, weakness, numbness or stiffness, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and others.

Swallowing therapy and speech therapy are generally needed by the patient to help them cope with the changes that came with the treatment. Some who undergo surgery and radiation therapy would need feeding tubes until they are able to return to a regular diet. However, about 5% of patients can no longer swallow and would continue to feed through feeding tubes. Speaking ability is also affected after laryngectomy. Some will be able to talk again in the usual way, but those who had total laryngectomy would need to learn to speak in a new way with the help of a speech pathologist.

To address the breathing condition of patients after larynx cancer surgery, patients need to undergo a tracheostomy or a surgical procedure wherein a tube is inserted through an incision (stoma) in the neck to allow a person to breathe without the use of his or her nose or mouth. For partial laryngectomy, this tube is temporary but for total laryngectomy, this tube is no longer an option but a necessity.

To know more about Laryngeal Cancer and its treatment, check out the following reading resources.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)