Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal Cancer Hospital in India

Laryngeal cancer is a condition in which the cells lining the inner wall of the larynx (voice box, located in the throat) multiply and grow uncontrollably to form a mass called tumour. The tumour can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). It is the most common type of head and neck cancer. Men are affected four times more often than women.

Types of Laryngeal Cancer

  • Squamous cell cancer: This occurs in the flat, skin-like squamous cells which cover the surfaces of the parts of larynx such as epiglottis (flap in the throat which keeps food from entering the windpipe), vocal cords, etc.
  • Adenocarcinomas: This type of laryngeal cancer is uncommon when compared with squamous cell laryngeal cancer. Adenocarcinomas start in the adenomatous cells, which are gland cells present around the larynx surface and produce mucus.
  • Other types of laryngeal cancer: Sarcomas are a rare type of cancer affecting the supportive tissues of the larynx such as the cartilages, bone, muscle and nerves.

Symptoms

  • Persistent cough or sore throat
  • Change in voice such as hoarseness for two weeks or more
  • Pain or difficulty while swallowing
  • Pain in the ears
  • Weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • High pitched or noisy breaths
  • Presence of blood while coughing
  • A lump in the neck

Causes

The causes of laryngeal cancer are not very clear. Although, it could be due to changes in some cells of the larynx. Most of the cancers begin due to alterations in the cell’s DNA.

DNA or genetic material provides necessary instructions which stimulate the functions of the body such as growth, reproduction, etc. A change in the genes can cause modifications in these instructions, which may cause the cells to grow continuously, thereby producing masses of a tumour and eventually cancer.

Treatment

  • Radiation therapy: In this treatment, controlled doses of high-energy X-rays are used to destroy cancer cells. These radiations should be precisely targeted onto the larynx to prevent any damage to the surrounding tissues. Radiotherapy is used in early stages of cancer or after surgery to prevent its recurrence.
  • Chemotherapy: In this therapy, medicines are used to kill or slow the multiplication of cancer cells. It can also be used to shrink tumours before surgery or radiotherapy. They are usually given through injections and have significant side effects.
  • Surgery: Surgery is performed to remove the cancer tissues without affecting the functions of the larynx. Some of the surgical procedures include:
  • Endoscopic resection:It is recommended for early stages of cancer. A special microscope is used to get a magnified visual of the larynx, which aids for the removal of cancer tissues with either a laser or small instruments. It is carried out under general anesthesia.
  • Partial laryngectomy: The surgery involves removal of the affected part of the larynx. A few vocal cords will be left in place to allow the individual to speak (but with a hoarse or weak voice). A temporary hole may have to be created and attached to a tube to help in breathing.
  • Total laryngectomy: It is used to treat the advanced stages of laryngeal cancer and involves the complete removal of the larynx. The surrounding infected lymph nodes may also be removed. A permanent hole will be created in the neck (stoma) to allow in breathing after the surgery. As all the vocal cords are removed, speaking may become difficult.