Laryngeal Cancer

How to Cite This Chapter: Gupta M, Świerczyńska-Krępa M, Świerczyński Z, Mejza F. Laryngeal Cancer. McMaster Textbook of Internal Medicine. Kraków: Medycyna Praktyczna. Accessed July 20, 2024.
Last Updated: May 31, 2022
Last Reviewed: May 31, 2022
Chapter Information

The most common form (>95%) of laryngeal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. It occurs mostly in men aged >50 years who are heavy smokers. It is sometimes preceded by leukoplakia (epithelial dysplasia) or pachydermia (thickening of the epithelium).

Risk factors include smoking and drinking alcohol.

Sign and symptoms: Chronic hoarseness, sore throat radiating to the ear when swallowing, dysphagia, sometimes cough, shortness of breath, and a palpable lump in the neck.

Diagnosis: Laryngeal cancer is frequently detected by palpation of the neck (palpable lymph nodes and decreased laryngeal mobility). If suspected, refer the patient urgently to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. Laryngoscopy may reveal a tumor, infiltration, and immobilization of one or both vocal folds. A definitive diagnosis is based on histologic examination. The disease extent is assessed based on computed tomography (CT), ultrasonography with assessment of cervical lymph nodes (possibly with a biopsy) and the pre-epiglottic space, chest radiography in 2 projections, as well as chest CT, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the neck, and/or positron emission tomography (PET), depending on the indications.

Treatment: Irradiation or larynx-sparing methods, including microsurgical endoscopic techniques with a laser (early in the disease), or partial or total laryngeal resection, most often combined with cervical lymphadenectomy and radiotherapy or chemotherapy, molecularly targeted treatment (cetuximab), and immunotherapy (PD-L1 inhibitors) in advanced disease. Treatment decisions are usually made in the setting of a multidisciplinary team.

We would love to hear from you

Comments, mistakes, suggestions?

We use cookies to ensure you get the best browsing experience on our website. Refer to our Cookies Information and Privacy Policy for more details.