Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Tests Recommended For Larynx Cancer

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Larynx cancer is also known as laryngeal cancer and refers to the formation of malignant cells in the larynx tissues. In most cases, larynx cancer starts in the vocal cords. The symptoms of larynx cancer mainly depend on the location and size of the tumor.

Tests Recommended

Larynx cancer test is necessary to make a proper diagnosis of this condition, to determine the stage of the cancer, and plan a course of treatment accordingly. Some of the main larynx cancer tests include:

  • Flexible Nasendoscopy: - This procedure involves insertion of a tube up the nose that travels slightly down the neck. This tube has a small light and camera attached to the end so that the doctor can examine the nose, back of the mouth and throat.
  • Endoscopy: - Endoscopy also involves insertion of a camera-attached tube but in this case, the tube is directly inserted through the mouth into the throat, while the patient is under general anesthesia. In case of abnormalities, tissue samples are collected for laboratory examination.
  • Fine needle aspiration: - This medical test is done if the doctor notices a lump in the neck region. A needle is inserted into the lump to extract fluid and cells for further testing.
  • Transnasal oesophagoscopy: - In this test an ultra thin endoscope is passed through the nose without any anesthesia, to examine the insides of the nose, throat and larynx.


Although the exact cause of larynx cancer is unknown, there are certain risk factors that can increase the chances of a person developing larynx cancer. Some of the main larynx cancer causes include:

  • Age: - Larynx cancers are more likely to develop with progressing age. Studies have shown that people between the ages of 60-70 years are more prone to developing this type of cancer. Studies have also shown that almost 90% people who develop larynx cancer are males.
  • Drinking alcohol and smoking: - Habits like alcohol consumption and smoking increase the risk of larynx cancer. Heavy smokers are 20 times more likely to develop this cancer as compared to non-smokers. A combination of drinking alcohol and smoking has a synergistic effect in the case of larynx cancer.
  • HPV infection: - An HPV infection in the larynx increases the risk of larynx cancer. It has also been observed that quite a number of patients who suffer from larynx cancer have tested positive for HPV as well.
  • Diet: - Poor eating habits are also a common cause of larynx cancer. A diet that lacks essential nutrients can increase a person's chances of developing this type of cancer.
  • Genetics: - Individuals with a family history of neck and head cancers have a higher risk of developing larynx cancer.
  • Low immunity: - Individuals with weakened immunity such as in the case of those suffering from HIV/AIDS, people recovering from surgeries or on medications that lower immunity, have a higher risk of developing this cancer.
  • Exposure to substances: - In some cases larynx cancer may develop on account of increased exposure to certain substances like chemicals, coal dust, paint fumes, wood dust or soot.
  • Acid reflux: - People who suffer from frequent attacks of acid reflux are more prone to developing larynx cancer because the damage and irritation in the esophagus may extend to the larynx.


Some of the common larynx cancer symptoms include:

  • Lump in the neck: - If the tumor develops in the region above the vocal chords, it may result in a lump in the neck, ear pain or a sore throat.
  • Throat Pain: - Most cases of larynx cancer begin in the vocal chords and these not only cause changes in the voice and hoarseness but also varying degrees of throat pain.
  • Breathing problems: - Development of tumors below the vocal chords is generally rare but when this happens, it causes difficulty in breathing. The affected individual not only has trouble breathing but the breathing also becomes noisy.
  • Difficulty swallowing: - When tumors develop in the larynx, a person usually finds it hard to swallow. There is also a constant feeling like you need to cough because the tumor causes blockage in the airways.
  • Weight Loss: - As the size of tumor increases, many patients experience unintentional weight loss.


Some of the main larynx cancer treatments include:

  • Surgery: - This is generally the course of treatment for large tumors. The doctor may even remove the larynx partially or completely.
  • Radiotherapy: - Doctors use radiotherapy for smaller tumors in the early stages of cancer.
  • Chemotherapy: - This method uses a combination of drugs to kill cancer cells. It is generally an option before surgery and radiotherapy.
  • Biological therapy: - This method involves the use of drugs that have an anti-cancer effect but are different from those used in chemotherapy.

Early diagnosis of cancer is very essential so as to treat could begin in the initial stage and the condition be brought under control. If the condition worsens, treatment for the same would be even more difficult.