Laryngeal cancer occurs when cells in the tissues of the larynx grow out of control and form tumors. The larynx, often called your voice box, is part of the throat and contains your vocal cords, which vibrate and make sound when air is directed against them. Risk factors for getting laryngeal cancer include use of tobacco products or drinking too much alcohol.

Laryngeal Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis

Laryngeal cancer symptoms may not be noticed until the disease is advanced. However, symptoms include:

  • A persistent sore throat or cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • A lump in the neck or throat
  • An increasingly hoarse voice
Diagnostic tests for laryngeal cancer include:
  • Nasendoscopy – A small, flexible tube with a video camera at one end is inserted into one of your nostrils and passed your throat to get images of your larynx.
  • Laryngoscopy – A small, flexible tube with a video camera at one end is inserted through the mouth. This allows the larynx to be seen in greater detail than with nasendoscopy, but it can be very uncomfortable.
  • Biopsy – During endoscopy, a sample of tissue may be collected, then viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to look for cancer cells.
  • Imaging studies, such as a CT scan, MRI or PET-CT scan

Laryngeal Cancer Treatment

Laryngeal cancer treatment varies depending on the stage of the disease and other circumstances. However, it may include:

  • Head and neck surgery – surgery to remove the cancerous tissue
  • Medical oncology – use of chemotherapy or other drugs to kill the cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy – use of radiation to kill cancerous cells or a solid tumor
  • Combination therapy - use of multiple techniques to destroy the cancer cells and or tumor
  • CyberKnife stereotactic radiotherapy

Learn More

Our multidisciplinary team provides expert care and post-treatment rehabilitation for cancers of the nasal cavity, oral cavity, salivary glands, sinuses, throat and voice box.

Head and Neck Cancer Program