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Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of laryngeal cancer

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of laryngeal cancer

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of laryngeal cancer

Symptoms, diagnosis and causes of laryngeal cancer

Submit a request for further information, a quotation or indicative cost. Your enquiry will be forwarded to up to 3 private healthcare providers. They will respond directly with further information.

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Laryngeal cancer is a cancerous condition of the larynx or the ‘voice box’. The larynx is located in the throat and consists of the vocal cords, which are responsible for the production of voice. The larynx also plays an important role in breathing and swallowing. Cancer is defined as the uncontrolled growth of cells, and it may either be benign or malignant. Laryngeal cancer mostly arises from the squamous cells, lining the larynx and is usually malignant in nature. It is known to spread to other parts of the body. This phenomenon is also termed as ‘metastasis’.

Incidence, age and sex

The incidence of laryngeal cancer is usually low in the general population, exhibiting that it is a rare kind of cancer. Laryngeal cancer mostly affects individuals of 50 years of age or more. Its frequency is more in men as compared with women.

Signs and symptoms

The clinical features of laryngeal cancer include hoarseness of voice, sore throat or persistent cough. Sometimes, this hoarseness may be severe enough to cause temporary loss of voice. Some individuals may also complain of a scratchy sensation or something stuck in the throat. Other associated features include low-grade fever, fatigue, or unexplained weight loss. The physician, on physical examination may find a lump or a swelling or an enlarged lymph node in the neck.

Investigations like direct and indirect laryngoscopy may be done to visualize the larynx and neighbouring areas. Radiological investigation including a CT scan of the neck may help in detecting the cancer. The physician may also want to perform a biopsy (microscopic examination of a specimen of the affected tissue) which helps not only in establishing the diagnosis of the cancer but also in assessing the extent and stage of the cancer.

Causes and prevention

The exact cause of laryngeal cancer is not known. However certain factors like persistent smoking and chronic alcoholism may increase the risk of developing cancer, many times over Moreover, in individuals with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, the gastric juices corrode the tissue lining of the vocal cords, thus leading to their inflammation. This persistent or recurrent inflammation of the larynx may damage it and lead to development of laryngeal cancer in such individuals. Individuals who have a history of head and neck cancer are more predisposed to developing laryngeal cancer in the future.

Cessation of smoking and alcohol and avoidance of constant exposure to toxic metals like nickel may help in preventing the development of laryngeal cancer.

Complications

Laryngeal cancer, if not detected and treated timely, may spread locally to the neighbouring areas like the base of the tongue or the lymph nodes of the neck. The cancer may also spread to distant areas by the blood stream during the advanced stage. This phenomenon is termed as metastasis and most common organ involved in laryngeal cancer is the lung. Spread of the cancer to the lungs may lead to potentially life-threatening complications like respiratory failure or even death.

Submit a request for further information, a quotation or indicative cost. Your enquiry will be forwarded to up to 3 private healthcare providers. They will respond directly with further information.

Get a quote for laryngeal cancer treatment >

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