Cancer Information: Larynx Cancer
Larynx cancer is a cancer that effects the larynx, or voice box, in people; it can also be called laryngeal cancer. The cancer occurs most frequently in people over the age of fifty-four and in black males. The larynx is approximately two inches long and is located below the nose passage way and above the trachea. Tumors can develop anywhere in the three parts of the larynx, the glottis, supraglottis, and subglottis. When the cancer spreads to other parts of the body it is called metastatic cancer.
Symptoms for this type of cancer depend mainly on the size and location of the tumor. Most cases of larynx cancer occurs in the glottis area, or vocal cord section. When a tumor develops in this area it is usually painless, but almost always results in hoarseness and a change in the person’s voice. If the tumor occurs in the supraglottis, or the section above the vocal cords, it may cause a lump in the throat, sore throat, or earaches. When the tumor develops in the area where the larynx and trachea join, subglottis, the person experiences trouble in breathing, very noisy breathing. Constant coughing or a feeling of a lump that doesn’t go away are also signs of larynx cancer. Tumor development in the subglottis is very unusual and rare. As a tumor grows it may
cause pain, weight loss, bad breath, frequent choking on food, and hard swallowing. Only qualified doctors are able to tell if any of the signs are really symptoms of the cancer.
A person with larynx cancer can be treated according to the person’s age, general health, and preferences. The size of the tumor, location of the tumor, and whether the cancer has spread or not also plays a major role in determining the type of treatment. Treatment can be done by local therapy or systemic therapy. In local therapy there is a choice of radiation therapy, surgery, or a combination of both. The only choice in systemic therapy is chemotherapy. When radiation therapy is used high-energy rays damage the cancerous cells and stops them from growing larger. A patient treated by
radiation has a better chance of keeping his or her voice after the treatment. Treatment usually last for five days per week for five to six weeks. Surgery is used when the tumor continues to grow even after radiation has been applied. In surgery a stoma is made, which is a hole made in the trachea to allow air to pass through into the lungs. The stoma may be permanent or temporary but it helps the patient to breathe while the larynx heals. Chemotherapy is a process where drugs are injected into the bloodstream.
Doctors are still unable to fully explain why one person gets larynx cancer and another does not. Although they cannot explain why a person gets cancer they have found some causes for it. People who smoke, smoke and drink, and work with asbestos have a much greater risk in getting laryngeal cancer. People who stop smoking and drinking greatly reduce there risk in getting the cancer.