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BCM - Baylor College of Medicine

Giving life to possible

Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Laryngeal Cancer

How Common Is Laryngeal Cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, there were 90,000 cases of laryngeal cancer diagnosed in 2007. It was the 18th most common cancer that year.

What Is the Most Common Type of Laryngeal Cancer?

The vast majority of the cancers of the larynx are squamous cell carcinoma. This means that it arises from the epithelium (or skin) of the vocal folds.

What Are the Risk Factors Associated With Laryngeal Cancer?

There are many factors involved in the development of laryngeal cancer. However, 95 percent of people who develop squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx are smokers. Alcohol potentiates the effect of tobacco. This means that the combination of tobacco and alcohol use has a higher risk of cancer than either alone.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms Associated With Laryngeal Cancer?

  • Voice change - a raspy voice lasting greater than 3 to 4 weeks should be evaluated by an otolaryngologist
  • Throat pain
  • Ear pain
  • Pain with swallowing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Noisy breathing
  • Neck mass (firm, localized neck swelling)

How Is Laryngeal Cancer Diagnosed?

Laryngeal cancer is diagnosed via a biopsy of the suspicious tissue. This is usually combined with a survey to ensure that there are no other sites of cancer in the head and neck.

How Is Laryngeal Cancer Treated?

Treatment typically consists of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of modalities depending on the stage of the cancer and the individual patient.