What is laryngeal cancer?

Laryngeal cancer (sometimes called voice box cancer or throat cancer) is highly treatable when diagnosed early.

Medical illustration of head and neck cancer regions.

Considered a Head and Neck Cancer, laryngeal cancer occurs when malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the larynx, which is located between the base of the tongue and the trachea. The larynx is home to the vocal chords, which vibrate and make a sound when air is pushed against them. This sound then echoes through the pharynx, mouth and nose to produce a voice. Because of location, these cancers can have a significant effect on quality of life by impacting the voice and swallowing ability.

Laryngeal cancer usually begins in squamous cells, which are found in many of the body’s tissues, including the skin and respiratory tract. An estimated 12,000+ new cases are diagnosed each year, but if it is detected and treated early and before it spreads to other parts of the body, patients usually have excellent outcomes.

Miami Cancer Institute’s laryngeal cancer specialists and sub-specialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers and the best individualized treatment just for you.

What are the risk factors for laryngeal cancer?

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing a disease. Having risk factors, however, does not necessarily mean you will get cancer, so it’s important to know your own personal risk factors and discuss any concerns with your doctor.

Although the effects of laryngeal cancer can be significant, the disease is highly treatable – and even sometimes preventable – which is why it’s important to know your risk factors.

One of the greatest risk factors for laryngeal cancer is tobacco and alcohol use.

Other risk factors include:

  • Being male (men are up to five times more likely to get laryngeal cancer than women)
  • Being older than 65
  • Exposure to asbestos and chemicals
  • A history of human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Having had Epstein-Barr virus (a virus in the herpes family)

Prevention

Preventing laryngeal cancer often involves changing lifestyle behaviors.

Two of the greatest risk factors for laryngeal cancer are tobacco use and alcohol use, so eliminating tobacco use and keeping alcohol intake to a minimum can help prevent the disease.

As with any type of cancer prevention, Miami Cancer Institute’s specialists recommend knowing and understanding your risk factors so that you can take appropriate steps to prevent or reduce your risk for laryngeal cancer.

At the Cancer Institute, our team of laryngeal cancer experts will discuss with you what screening tests are best for you as well as the steps you can take to lower your risk of developing the disease.

Have questions? We're here to help.

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