Laryngeal Cancer

Mar 16, 2022

Table of contents

What is laryngeal cancer?

The larynx, a muscular and tubular structure that starts behind the nose and ends in the neck, contains various structures. Laryngeal cancer usually starts in the pharynx or the voice box. The most common cell type where laryngeal cancer begins is squamous cells.

Laryngeal cancer diagnostic criteria

Doctors use various tests to diagnose laryngeal cancer. These tests include:

Physical examination

If there is a suspicion of laryngeal cancer, a physical examination should be performed by a specialist doctor. During this examination, various questions related to the risks of laryngeal cancer are also directed to the patients.


These are tests that allow doctors to check for problems in the throat. It allows a detailed examination of the throat area behind the nose and mouth.


A test used to diagnose oropharyngeal cancer.

Computed tomography

An imaging test used to obtain detailed images of the throat. CT scans are generally used to diagnose laryngeal and oropharyngeal cancer.

Magnetic resonance imaging

Another imaging system used to provide detailed imaging of the throat. For this, radio waves and magnets are used.

Positron emission tomography

A type of test called PET scan that allows scanning to see if the cancer has spread.

Endoscopic biopsy

A test that allows tissue samples to be taken and examined under a microscope.

Symptoms of laryngeal cancer

The symptoms that may be seen in patients with laryngeal cancer include:

  • Cough
  • Weight loss
  • Hoarseness
  • Throat pain lasting more than two weeks
  • Voice changes such as difficulty speaking clearly
  • Lump or sore in the throat that does not heal
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • Mouth swelling
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Feeling of a foreign body in the mouth or throat

Symptoms of death from laryngeal cancer

Patients approaching the end of their life due to laryngeal cancer may exhibit different symptoms. These symptoms, also referred to as signs of death, are not known how long before death they will appear. The symptoms that may be seen in individuals nearing the end of their life include:

  • Constant sleepiness
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Avoiding eating
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Restless movements as if in pain
  • Changes in breathing
  • Noisy breathing
  • Cooling of hands, feet, and legs
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Complete loss of consciousness

Causes of laryngeal cancer

Laryngeal cancer has a very complex structure. It is generally explained as the abnormal proliferation of normal laryngeal cells. The cause of this abnormal proliferation is mutations in the DNA. However, what exactly causes these mutations in the DNA is not known.

Treatment methods for laryngeal cancer

The treatment of laryngeal cancer varies depending on the stage of the cancer. In addition, the type of cell where the cancer starts is also effective in planning the treatment. Other points to consider for the treatment to fully meet the patient's needs include the patient's general health status and personal preferences.

Radiotherapy treatment

In radiotherapy, a special device delivers radiation to the cancer cells, aiming to kill them. The waves used by this device are X-rays and protons.

Chemotherapy treatment

It is a treatment method that allows drugs to kill cancer cells. If the disease has spread to a more advanced stage or to different areas, chemotherapy may be applied alone or in combination with radiotherapy.

Surgical treatment

For patients with more advanced cancer, surgical treatments may be required. These treatments include:


It is the surgical removal of the vocal cords.


Partial laryngectomy removes a part of the larynx, while total laryngectomy removes the entire larynx.

Endoscopic surgery

Allows the surgical removal of superficial cancers through a small incision. It can be done using a hollow tube and a special laser or surgical tools inserted through this tube.

Reconstruction surgery

Performed to restore the speech and swallowing functions lost due to the removal of the larynx. In reconstruction surgery, tissues taken from other parts of the body are used.

Other surgeries

Other surgeries include lymph node removal surgery and the creation of a hole in the throat.

Possible side effects of laryngeal cancer treatment

Side effects vary depending on the type of treatment. It is important to remember that every patient is unique and may experience different side effects. Some of the common side effects of laryngeal cancer treatment include:

  • Voice changes
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swelling in the throat
  • Skin irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
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