Larynx Cancer


Larynx Cancer

Laryngeal cancer is cancer that occurs in an organ called the larynx. The larynx is a structure located above the windpipe, where the vocal cords are located. It is caused by the growth of cells in the vocal cords. 

Symptoms of laryngeal cancer may include hoarseness or loss of voice, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, ear pain, bloody sputum or saliva, weight loss.

Laryngeal cancer can be caused by factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to certain chemicals and chronic reflux disease. Smokers have a higher risk of developing laryngeal cancer than non-smokers.

Larynx cancer is one of the most seen cancer types. The symptoms of larynx cancer are hoarseness, persistent sore throat, and cough. Treatment may take place with surgery, called a laryngectomy, to remove part or all of your larynx.

The larynx is part of the respiratory system and connects the throat to the windpipe. The vocal cords are bands of muscles in the larynx that help you speak. Laryngeal cancer begins in the cells of the larynx. It can also spread to other parts of the body.

In this article, we will have a closer look at the larynx cancer. In the first part of the article, you can read about the causes of larynx cancer and types of larynx cancer. We will then mention treatment options for larynx cancer. In the final part, risk factors and prevention strategies for larynx cancer and living with larynx cancer are the subjects you will read about.

Causes of Larynx Cancer

We don't know exactly what causes throat cancer, but we do know that certain factors increase your risk of developing throat cancer:

  • Smoking tobacco
  • Regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol
  • Family history: People who have a close relative diagnosed with laryngeal cancer are more likely to develop laryngeal cancer.
  • An unhealthy diet based on fast food: A diet consisting of red meat, processed food, and fried foods is known to increase the risk of developing throat cancer. Alternatives such as the "Mediterranean diet" can reduce this risk.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals and substances in workplaces etc.
  • HPV

HPV is known to cause changes in cervical cells that can lead to cervical cancer. It is speculated that the virus may have a similar effect on cells in the throat. Research on this subject is ongoing.

Types of Larynx Cancer

There are several main types of laryngeal cancer, classified according to the specific cells or areas in the larynx where the cancer originates.

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: It is the most common type of laryngeal cancer. It usually starts in the squamous cells of the vocal cords.
  • Supraglottic Cancer: It develops in the upper part of the larynx, above the vocal cords. It constitutes approximately 25-35% of larynx cancers.
  • Glottic Cancer: Glottic cancer starts in the vocal cords. It is easily noticed because it affects the vocal cords. It causes hoarseness. Common symptoms are voice change and difficulty swallowing. Other possible symptoms may include a lump in the neck, difficulty breathing, or a sore throat.
  • Subglottic Cancer: Subglottic cancer is relatively rare and develops in the subglottis in the area below the vocal cords. Since the tissue in this area is thinner, it is known as the fastest-spreading type.

Treatment Options for Larynx Cancer

Treatment options for larynx cancer vary according to the size of the cancer. The main treatment methods are radiotherapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted cancer drugs.

  • Radiotherapy: It can often be used as a stand-alone treatment for early-stage laryngeal cancer and can be used to prevent cancerous cells from returning. The course of treatment can take up to seven weeks.
  • Surgery: There are 3 types of surgery which are endoscopic resection, partial laryngectomy, and total laryngectomy.
  • Chemotherapy: It is a method used to damage the DNA of cancer cells. It can be used in combination with radiotherapy to shrink the tumor.
  • Targeted cancer drugs: A targeted cancer drug such is used. These are known for disrupting the processes that cancerous cells use to grow. It can be combined with radiotherapy to treat advanced laryngeal cancer.

Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies for Larynx Cancer

Tobacco, alcohol, family history, and unhealthy diet are among the risk factors for larynx cancer and metastasis and neck dissection as we mention before. On the other hand, some strategies for larynx cancer can be lined up as below:

  • Not smoking and reducing alcohol consumption significantly reduce laryngeal cancer.
  • It is possible to reduce the risk of HPV infection through safe sexual practices. Having the HPV vaccine also lowers the risk.
  •   If you work in a job where there is a risk of exposure to harmful substances, always follow the safety guidelines.
  • A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is very beneficial in lowering the risk of laryngeal cancer.
  • If you suffer from chronic acid reflux, seeking professional help to effectively manage the condition will help.
  • Regular visits to a healthcare professional and discussions about risk factors and symptoms can aid in early detection and prompt treatment if any problems arise.

Living with Larynx Cancer: Coping Strategies and Support

Knowing your cancer type and its treatment will increase your effectiveness in coping and decision-making processes. Before you see your doctor, write down your questions on a piece of paper. Take someone with you to remind you what you want to ask.

If necessary, ask your doctors to explain every detail.

A professional maintenance specialist will make your job easier in many ways.

Talking about your cancer with friends and relatives can make you feel better. But sometimes this isn't possible for everyone, and some people don't want to talk to anyone for fear of the feelings it might bring. Try talking to a friend or relative as soon as you feel it will do you good.


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ogün Erşen Date of birth 10.11.1987 Education and Expertise Karadeniz Technical University Faculty of Medicine Kocatepe University Ankara University Faculty of Medicine Konya Health Sciences University Professional Interests: Obesity (fatness) surgery and metabolic surgery Laparoscopic reflux surgery Laparoscopic gallbladder surgeries Gastric balloon application ERCP, EMR, ESD (Advanced Endoscopic procedures) Laparoscopic pancreatic cancer surgery Laparoscopic gastric and intestinal cancer surgeries Hemorrhoid surgeries Perianal fistula surgeries Laparoscopic abdominal and inguinal hernia surgeries Oncoplastic Breast cancer surgeries Natural cancer surgery (NOSE) Thyroid cancer and goiter surgeries. Memberships to Scientific Organizations Turkish Surgery Association Turkish Obesity Surgery Association Surgical Oncology Association National Society of Endoscopic Laparoscopic Surgery He is a member of the Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery Association. Courses and Certificates: Turkish surgical association proficiency exam (Board) certificate of achievement in 2018 He has more than 100 papers presented in national and international congresses and more than 50 articles published in international journals. Foreign language English
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