Laryngeal cancer

Laryngeal cancer starts in the voice box (larynx). The voice box is at the entrance of the windpipe and is important for breathing and speaking.

 

What is laryngeal cancer?

Laryngeal cancer is rare, especially if you’re under 40. It affects about four times as many men than women and is more common if you’re over 60. Most tumours start in the vocal cords (glottis), but they can also develop:

    • • Above the vocal cords (supraglottis)
    • • Below the vocal cords (subglottis)
    • The entrance to the oesophagus, the tube linking the throat to the stomach (hypopharynx)

Causes of laryngeal cancer

The exact cause of laryngeal cancer isn’t known yet. But some things make it more likely, including:

    • • A family history of head and neck cancers
    • • A poor diet lacking in fruit and vegetables
    • • Being repeatedly exposed to certain chemicals e.g. asbestos and coal dust
    • • Drinking large amounts of alcohol regularly
    • • Having a common sexually transmitted virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV)
    • Smoking (including being regularly exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke)

You can cut your risks by having a healthy lifestyle.

Symptoms of laryngeal cancer

Tumours on the glottis change your voice, so you might sound hoarse. Tumours that form in other parts of the larynx usually don’t. A hoarse voice is the most common early warning sign for laryngeal cancer.

Other symptoms can include:

A lump in your throat or neck

A persistent cough

A sore throat that doesn’t go away

Breathlessness

Constant earache

Difficulty speaking

Difficulty swallowing

Fatigue and weakness

Unexplained weight loss

All these symptoms may be caused by other less harmful conditions. But if you’re worried, it’s a good idea to get checked out by your doctor.

Tests and diagnosis

Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms. They might check your throat for lumps or swellings. You may be referred to a specialist for more tests which may include:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Fine needle aspiration (FNA) to take some cells for analysis
  • Laryngoscopy with biopsy to take some cells for analysis
  • Nasendoscopy to look inside your throat
  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Scans including CT, MRI, PET-CT and ultrasound

Treatments we offer

Your specialist doctor will discuss treatment options with you. These could include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

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Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

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Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

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Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

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Meet our doctors

Our-doctors

Everything we do is focused on designing better care for our patients. With a network of 12 specialist oncology treatment centres across the UK, we provide the most up-to-date treatments and technology as standard.

We attract and retain some of the most experienced doctors in the country, who all have a passion for improving patient outcomes and specialise in the treatment of different types of cancer.

Meet our doctors

Search for a centre near you

Birmingham

Little Aston Hall Drive, Sutton Coldfield, B74 3BF

+44 (0)121 353 3055

Bristol

300 Park Avenue, Aztec West, Bristol, BS32 4SY

01454 456500

Cambridge

The Oaks, Fordham Road, Newmarket, CB8 7XN

+44 (0)1223 907 600

Chelmsford

Springfield Cancer Centre, Lawn Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 7GU

+44 (0)1245 987 901

Cromwell Hospital

164-178 Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW5 0TU, UK

020 7460 5626

Elstree

Unit 710, Centennial Park, Centennial Avenue, Elstree, Borehamwood, WD6 3SZ

+44 (0)208 236 9040

Guildford

BMI St Martha Oncology Centre, 46 Harvey Road, Guildford, GU1 3LX

+44 (0)1483 806 000

Maidstone

17 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UA

+44 (0)1732 207 000

Milton Keynes

Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood East, Milton Keynes, MK14 6LS

+44 (0)1908 467 700

Nottingham

The Park Centre for oncology, Sherwood Lodge Drive, Burntstump Country Park, Nottingham, NG5 8RX

+44 (0)115 966 2250

Oxford

Sandy Lane West, Peters Way, Oxford, OX4 6LB

+44 (0)1865 237 700

Portsmouth

Bartons Road, Havant, PO9 5NA

+44 (0)23 9248 4992

Southampton

Spire Hospital, Chalybeate Close, Southampton, SO16 6UY

+44 (0)238 076 4961

Windsor

69 Alma Road, Windsor, SL4 3HD

+44 (0)1753 418 444