General Illness Information
Larynx Cancer, Laryngeal Cancer
Medical Term: None Specified
Description: Cancer of the larynx (voice box), and surrounding tissues. Usually in patients over age 50 years old. Men are nine times more affected than women.
Causes: The cause has not been identified, but there is a very strong association with smoking, and also with heavy alcohol use.
- Do not smoke.
- Limit alcohol use.
- See your physician if you develop any early symptoms.
Signs & Symptoms
- Persistent hoarseness.
- Feeling of lump in the throat.
- Pain or difficulty while swallowing.
- Hard, enlarged lumps in the neck.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Tenderness in the neck.
- Chronic cough.
- Change in voice quality.
- Alcohol abuse.
- Chronic vocal-cord inflammation from any cause.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnostic tests may include laryngoscopy examination, with vocal cord biopsy. Also CT scan or MRI, bone scan, X-ray of chest to determine if cancer has spread.
- If diagnosed early, radiation therapy or laser cordectomy (excision of vocal cord) may be done, sometimes on an outpatient basis.
- Advanced disease requires surgery to remove cancer and involved tissue (laryngectomy) and postoperative radiation therapy.
- Speech therapy to learn to speak without vocal cords, if surgery is needed.
- Reconstructive surgery to create ability to speak, if the larynx has to be removed. Recent advances have created excellent ability to “speak” again.
- Close and frequent follow-up is necessary, as recurrence is common.
- This disease is treated by surgery and radiotherapy.
- Chemotherapy is not commonly used.
Resume your normal activities gradually after treatment or surgery.
No special diet, unless surgery is performed. In that case, a liquid diet is necessary for a short while.
Possible Complications :
- Post-operative and post-treatment complications are not infrequent. These affect the voice, swallowing and digestion.
- Life-threatening spread of the cancer to other organs.
Prognosis is dependent on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis. If the tumor is localized, and there has been no spread, the prognosis is excellent.
Prognosis is much worse if the tumor has spread beyond its origin.