laryngeal cancer refers to the type of throat cancer that occurs in the larynx (part of the throat) or the voice box. the malignant cells of this type of cancer generally begin in the larynx.
the larynx refers to the voice box that contains muscles and cartilage that allows you to talk, swallow, and breathe.
laryngeal cancer can be a part of other cancers such as neck and head cancer. this cancer can even damage the voice box permanently. it can even spread to other parts of the body if it is not treated quickly. the survival rates of this cancer can depend on when it was diagnosed and the specific location.
symptoms of laryngeal cancer
the signs and symptoms related to laryngeal cancer can easily be detectable. a few of these symptoms can include:
difficulty in breathing
coughing with blood
difficulty in swallowing food
swelling in the neck
lumps on the neck
sudden weight loss
you should keep in mind that the above signs and symptoms can be related to other conditions as well. hence, if you have any symptoms that concern you, you should make an appointment with your doctor to rule out any possibility of cancer.
types of laryngeal cancer
most laryngeal cancers developed are squamous cell carcinoma which begins in the squamous (thin and flat) cells that line the larynx. however, some other types of laryngeal cancer can include:
this refers to cancer that occurs in the connective tissues in the larynx.
it refers to cancer that occurs in the lymphatic tissues of the larynx.
this is another rare type of cancer that begins in the glandular cells of the larynx.
this refers to the type of cancer that develops in the neuro (nerve) cells that work towards creating endocrine (hormones). hormones control the functions of different organs in the body.
causes of laryngeal cancer
there are many reasons for laryngeal cancer to occur in the voice box. one of the main reasons for laryngeal cancer is smoking. however, a few other causes can include:
heavy use of alcohol
hpv (human papillomavirus) exposure
weak immune system
exposure to toxins like asbestos
genetic diseases such as fanconi anaemia
risk for laryngeal cancer
multiple factors can lead to an increased risk of laryngeal cancer. these mainly include certain lifestyle factors such as:
not eating a sufficient amount of vegetables and fruits
consuming processed foods in large quantities
exposure to asbestos
family history of laryngeal cancer
diagnosis of laryngeal cancer
the diagnosis of laryngeal cancer generally begins by looking at the medical history of the patient. if there are any potential symptoms of laryngeal cancer then the doctor will carefully examine the patient and begin a few series of tests.
one of the first tests performed is a laryngoscopy. in this process, the doctor will either use a small scope or a series of mirrors to carefully examine the larynx.
if there are any abnormalities found during diagnosis, the doctor may even perform a biopsy to detect any signs of laryngeal cancer.
if the cancer is detected in the larynx, the doctor may even perform some other tests such as a ct scan or mri to check if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
once cancer is detected, the next step for diagnosis would be staging. this shows how far cancer has travelled or spread in the body. to do so, the doctor can use the tnm system. under this system, the doctor will be able to identify the size of the tumour, the depth of the tumour, and whether the tumour has metastasized or not.
most laryngeal cancers spread to the lungs as well. tiny tumours that have not spread to the lymph nodes are the least serious types of cancer. whereas, once the tumours reach the lymph nodes, cancer moves on to an advanced stage.
treatment of laryngeal cancer
the treatment of laryngeal cancer depends on the stage of the diagnosis as well as the size of the tumour.
if cancer is detected at an early stage, then the doctor will recommend either radiation therapy or surgery. surgery is one of the most common methods of treatment for any type of cancer. although there may be a few risks, these risks are more likely to occur if the tumour is not removed. these risks can include:
difficulty in breathing
difficulty in swallowing
change or loss of voice
permanent neck scars
apart from surgery, the doctor may even suggest undergoing radiation therapy to treat the tumour. radiation therapy helps to kill all the remaining cancer cells.
chemotherapy is another treatment option available to cure laryngeal cancer. chemotherapy can help in:
killing the remaining cancer cells after surgery and radiation
treat cancer at an advanced stage instead of undergoing surgery
treat advanced cancer symptoms that can't be entirely removed.
if the tumour is comparatively small, then the doctor may suggest an initial treatment instead of going for surgery, or if the tumour is too late to be treated with surgery. either way, this treatment is used to make sure you live a better quality of life.
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