At a Glance
- Laryngeal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the larynx.
- Estimated new cases and deaths from laryngeal cancer in the United States in 2010 are 12,720 and 3,600 respectively.
- Risk factors are use of tobacco products and drinking too much alcohol.
- Symptoms of laryngeal cancer include a sore throat or cough that does not go away, trouble or pain when swallowing, ear pain, a lump in the neck or throat, a change or hoarseness in the voice.
The larynx (voice box) is located just below the pharynx (throat) in the neck. The larynx contains the vocal cords, which vibrate and make sound when air is directed against them. The sound echoes through the pharynx, mouth, and nose to make a person’s voice. There are three main parts of the larynx:
- Supraglottis: The upper part of the larynx above the vocal cords, including the epiglottis.
- Glottis: The middle part of the larynx where the vocal cords are located.
- Subglottis: The lower part of the larynx between the vocal cords and the trachea (windpipe).
Most laryngeal cancers form in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells lining the inside of the larynx.
Use of tobacco products and drinking too much alcohol can affect the risk of developing laryngeal cancer.
Possible signs of laryngeal cancer include:
- A sore throat or cough that does not go away.
- Trouble or pain when swallowing.
- Ear pain.
- A lump in the neck or throat.
- A change or hoarseness in the voice