Larynx Cancer | Tampa General Hospital


Larynx Cancer Information

Larynx cancer, also known as laryngeal cancer, is a disease that affects the tissue of the larynx, which is the part of the throat, located between the trachea and the base of the tongue. There are three primary parts to the larynx: the supraglottis, which is located above the vocal chords and contains the epiglottis; the glottis, which is located in the center of the larynx and contains the vocal cords; and the subglottis, which is located between the vocal cords and trachea. While laryngeal cancer can occur anywhere along the larynx, the majority of tumors form in the squamous cells that coat the vocal cords.

Larynx Cancer Causes

Like many other cancers, it is not entirely clear what causes larynx cancer. However, the condition has been linked to certain risk factors. Generally, cancer of the larynx, also called laryngeal cancer, forms in the squamous cells, which are the thin flat cells lining the inside of the larynx.

Some of the most significant risk factors and larynx cancer causes include:

  • Age – The risk of laryngeal cancer increases as individuals get older.

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) – Some studies have shown a link between HPV and laryngeal cancer.

  • Tobacco use – Smoke from tobacco passes over the larynx on its way to the lungs, which is a source of irritation.

  • Alcohol use – Excessive alcohol use has been linked to laryngeal cancer.

  • Exposure to certain substances – Consistent exposure to harmful environmental substances, such as asbestos, may cause laryngeal cancer.

Some common symptoms that larynx cancer causes include difficulty breathing and/or swallowing, ear pain, hoarseness, and chronic coughing.

Larynx Cancer Symptoms

Larynx cancer symptoms vary significantly from patient to patient and depend on a variety of factors, such as age and the size of the tumor. Additionally, while larynx cancer most commonly originates in the squamous cells that line the vocal cords in the middle of the larynx, it can potentially form in other areas of the upper and lower larynx, which may affect symptoms.

Common signs include:

  • Persistent coughing
  • Ongoing sore throat
  • Voice changes or hoarseness
  • A lump in the neck
  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty or pain with swallowing

Larynx Cancer Diagnosis

When a patient suspects that they may have larynx cancer because of new symptoms, such as trouble swallowing, a persistent cough, or hoarseness, there are a number of tests that a physician may order to obtain a diagnosis. These include, but are not limited to:

  • A physical exam of the throat and neck
  • A biopsy (laryngoscopy or endoscopy)
  • A CT Scan (CAT scan)
  • An MRI

Larynx Cancer Treatment 

At Tampa General Hospital, we are leaders in the treatment of larynx cancer and other cancers affecting the head and neck. We take a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care, and provide our patients with treatment plans that are tailored to their individual needs. To ensure the greatest likelihood for successful treatment outcomes, we also utilize advanced technology, including robotic surgery.