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Larynx Cancer

Larynx Cancer - What it is

The larynx is the voice box. It is made up of the glottis, which is the vocal cords. The subglottis is the area below the vocal chords, and the supraglottis is the area above the vocal cords. Any of the cells lining the larynx can become cancerous.

How common is Larynx Cancer?

In men, the number of new cases of larynx cancer diagnosed in the last 5 years has been decreasing. It is 9 times more common in men than in women. 

Larynx Cancer - Symptoms

​A person should seek early medical attention if he has a persistent hoarse voice or a persistent sore throat, a painless lump in the neck, feels pain on swallowing, has difficulty swallowing, or has noisy breathing known as stridor. As cancer can spread to other organs in the body, symptoms may affect the lungs or bone in the later stage of cancer.

Larynx Cancer - How to prevent?

Larynx Cancer - Causes and Risk Factors

​Smoking is one of the most common risk factors associated with larynx cancer. Alcohol consumption is also a risk factor. Smokers who also drink alcohol have a much higher risk of developing larynx cancer than those who only smoke or who only drink alcohol.

Larynx Cancer - Diagnosis

​If larynx cancer is suspected, the doctor will examine swelling or lumps in the neck. An angled mirror that faces downwards is placed against the back of the throat (the palate) to examine the voice box and surrounding organs. Alternatively, a flexible tube, less than a centimetre in diameter, is passed into one of the nostrils to the back of the throat to look for lumps or ulcers in the voice box and surrounding areas. 

Larynx Cancer - Treatments

Early stage cancers of the larynx are treated with radiotherapy and this allows the patients to have their voice boxes preserved. 70% to 95% of patients treated this way achieve local control. Surgery can salvage cases where radiotherapy fails. More advanced tumours may be treated with radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy or surgery followed by radiotherapy. Patients who have had their larynxes removed by surgery can continue to speak in one of the following three ways:
  • Oesophageal speech (using air from the stomach)
  • Amplification by an electronic device placed against the neck while speaking or
  • Having a prosthetic device inserted into the tracheostome.

Larynx Cancer - Preparing for surgery

Larynx Cancer - Post-surgery care

Larynx Cancer - Other Information

​For further enquiries on larynx cancer, please call the Cancer Helpline at (65) 6225 5655 or email to cancerhelpline@nccs.com.sg.

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