Larynx CancerCancer » Larynx Cancer
Larynx is located between the pharynx and the trachea. It operates to guarantee the airways are open while breathing, talking and closing when we swallow to make sure no food stuff gets into the trachea. People who drink alcohol and smoke are more at threat, as also are workers exposed to sulphuric acid and asbestos. The cancer can also go outside the larynx into the neighboring lymph nodes or lymph glands in the neck.
Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures, which act as stations for drainage of lymph from various organs. The larynx has two bands of muscle that form the vocal cords. The cartilage at the front of the larynx is sometimes called the Adam's apple. The larynx is at the top of the windpipe, which can develop in any area of the larynx, foe example the glottis (where the vocal cords are), the supraglottis (the area above the cords), or the subglottis (the area that connects the larynx to the trachea).
Larynx Cancer Types
The type of larynx cancer mentioned in various sources includes:
- Area of the larynx affected:
- Glottis tumor- where the vocal cords are; most common area to start a tumor.
- Supraglottis tumor.
- Subglottis tumor- rare type.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (larynx) - almost all cases.
Larynx Cancer Causes
The common causes and risk factors of larynx cancer include the following:
- Inadequate nutrition.
- Toxic exposure.
- Asbestos poisoning.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
- Ionizing radiation.
- Human papillomavirus.
- Poor diet, lack of physical activity, or being overweight.
- Poor immune system.
- Certain chemicals and other substances.
- Smoking is a very strongly linked factor with laryngeal cancers; smokers are far more likely than nonsmokers to develop this disease.
- The risk is extremely high if these smokers are also heavy alcohol drinkers.
- Age factor.
Larynx Cancer Symptoms
Some signs and symptoms related to larynx cancer are as follows:
- Hoarseness that does not resolve in 1 or 2 weeks.
- Feeling a lump in the throat or neck.
- Abnormal (high pitched) breathing sounds.
- Noisy breathing.
- Coughing up blood.
- Unintentional weight loss.
- Swelling in the neck. Difficulty swallowing and breathing.
- Sore throat that does not resolve in 1 to 2 weeks, even with antibiotics.
- Ear pain.
Larynx Cancer Diagnosis
- Physical exam: The doctor will examine your neck, thyroid, larynx, and lymph nodes for abnormal lumps or swelling.
- Indirect laryngoscopy: The doctor looks down your throat using a small, long-handled mirror to check for abnormal areas and to see if your vocal cords move as they should. The doctor may spray local anesthesia in your throat to keep you from gagging.
- Direct laryngoscopy: The doctor will insert a lighted tube, called a laryngoscope, through the mouth. As the tube goes down the throat, The doctor can look at areas that cannot be seen in the office. This procedure is done in the operating room with use of a general anesthetic to put the patient off to sleep
- CT scan: An x-ray machine linked to a computer takes a series of detailed pictures of the neck area. The patient may receive an injection of a special dye so that the larynx shows up clearly in the pictures. From the CT scan, the doctor may see tumors in the larynx or elsewhere in the neck.
- Radiology: This includes two procedures: Plain film x-rays and modified barium swallows. The plain film x-rays are of the head, neck, and chest. They are done for a gross evaluation for tumor extent and metastasis. The modified barium swallow is most appropriate for dysphagia of attributable cause.
- Biopsy: If an exam shows an abnormal area, the doctor may remove a small sample of tissue. Removing tissue to look for cancer cells is called a biopsy. For a biopsy, you receive local or general anesthesia, and a doctor removes tissue samples through a laryngoscope. A pathologist then looks at the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Biopsy is the only sure way to know if a tumor is cancerous.
Larynx Cancer Treatment
Specific treatment depends on the location, type, and stage of the tumor. Treatment may involve surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy, alone or in combination. This is a specialized area which requires the coordinated expertise of ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeons.
- Total laryngectomy: The surgeon removes the entire larynx.
- Partial laryngectomy (hemilaryngectomy): The surgeon removes the part of the larynx.
- Supraglottic laryngectomy: The surgeon takes out the supraglottis, the top part of the larynx.
- Cordectomy: The surgeon removes one or both vocal cords. Sometimes the surgeon also removes the lymph nodes in the neck. This is called lymph node dissection. The surgeon also may remove the thyroid. If The doctor thinks the cancer may have spread, the lymph nodes in the neck and some of the tissue around them may be removed. These nodes are often the first place the larynx cancer spread.
Radiation therapy: This therapy uses high-energy rays to damage cancer cells and stop them from growing. The rays are aimed at the tumor and the surrounding area. Doctors may suggest this type of cancer for some cancers because it can destroy the tumor and the patient may not lose his/her voice. Radiation therapy may be combined with surgery to destroy microscopic cancer cells that may remain in the area after surgery. Radiation therapy also may be used for tumors that cannot be removed with surgery.
Chemotherapy: This therapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Doctor may suggest one drug or a combination of drugs. The drugs for cancer of the larynx are usually given by injection into the bloodstream. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. Chemotherapy is used to treat laryngeal cancer in several ways:
- Before surgery or radiation therapy: In some cases, drugs are given to shrink a large tumor before surgery or radiation therapy.
- After surgery or radiation therapy: Chemotherapy may be used after surgery or radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells that may be left. It also may be used for cancers that have spread.
- Instead of surgery: Chemotherapy may be used with radiation therapy instead of surgery. The larynx is not removed and the voice is spared.
New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials, they are:
Chemoprevention: Chemoprevention is the use of drugs, vitamins or other substances to reduce the risk of developing cancer or to reduce the risk of recurrence of cancer. The drug isotretinoin is being studied to prevent the development of a second cancer in patients who have had cancer of the head or neck.
Radiosensitizers: Radiosensitizers are drugs that make tumor cells more sensitive to radiation therapy. Combining radiation therapy with radiosensitizers may kill more tumor cells. Laryngeal cancer, especially supraglottic tumors, is associated with silica and cotton dust exposures in turkey. The smoking habits of 190 patients with laryngeal cancer were compared with those of age and sex matched controls. There were fewer non-smokers and more heavy smokers amongst the patients than amongst the controls; the differences were statistically highly significant.
Though Larynx cancer is not common, one should not ignore the symptoms that may lead to the disease.