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Larynx Cancer

What is It?

Cancer of the "voice box" and surrounding tissues. Affects chiefly men in a ratio of 9:1 to women. Usually in patients over age 50 years old. Causes
  • Smoking
  • Association with alcohol abuse.
Signs and Symptoms
  • Persistent hoarseness .
  • Feeling of lump in the throat.
  • Hard, enlarged lymph glands in the neck.
  • Weight loss.
  • Tenderness in the neck.
  • Chronic cough.

Risk Factors


  • Heavy smoking.
  • Excess alcohol consumption.
  • Vocal-cord polyps.
  • Chronic vocal-cord inflammation from any cause.


  • Stop smoking.
  • Don't drink more than 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks if any a day.
  • Don't abuse your voice.
  • See your doctor if you develop any of the above symptoms.


Diagnosis and Treatment
General Measures
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 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. If your vocal cords are removed, join a support group for persons like you ,who have faced the same situation.
Additional information available form the American Cancer Society, local branch listed in the telephone directory, or call (800)ACS-2345. Another source is the Cancer Information Clearinghouse at (800)4-CANCER.
In Canada contact the Canadian Cancer Society at 1-888-939-3333.

Medications are usually not necessary for this cancer. Anticancer drugs are not often prescribed; radiation therapy is used instead.

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.

This is dependent on early diagnosis. Often curable with early diagnosis and treatment. In the late stages, this condition is currently considered in incurable. However, symptoms can be relieved or controlled. Scientific research into causes and treatment continues, so there is hope for increasingly effective treatment and cure.


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