Laryngeal cancer is an abnormal condition of the larynx (voice box). Individuals exposed to acute pollutants or having a history of serial smoking are most susceptible to a positive laryngeal cancer diagnosis.
Patients experience unexplained throat complications among its early symptoms. Men are more susceptible to laryngeal cancer than women.
What is the most concerning thing about laryngeal cancer?
Laryngeal cancer can happen when the larynx stays exposed to potent mutagens that can trigger unfavourable mutation, leading to a neoplastic formation.
Most patients reporting this condition have a history of serial smoking as the most prevalent factor.
Introduction: What is laryngeal cancer?
Laryngeal cancer causes abnormal cell growth (neoplasia) around the vocal cord. It inhibits the larynx from natural articulation, leading to the hoarseness of the voice.
While the malignant condition may initially limit to the throat region, stage 3 laryngeal cancer can spread all over the neck or the entire body.
Patients with poor immunity, an unhealthy lifestyle or prolonged exposure to harmful particulate matter are more prone to contract laryngeal cancer.
While it accounts for only 4% of all cancerous conditions, adequate self-care and clinical fervour help early detection, easing the strain through prompt laryngeal cancer treatment.
Laryngeal cancer: Potential factors
Laryngeal cancer symptoms develop predominantly among chain-smoking individuals or those exposed to harsh working conditions comprising severe pollution.
We consider the following lifestyle trends among the leading cause of laryngeal cancer:
- Patients having a history of serial smoking.
- Individuals working in chemical industries (exposed to toxic fumes and fine particles leading to incurable asbestosis).
- Family history of carcinoma conditions.
- History of preexisting cancerous infection.
- Individuals over 55 years of age.
Laryngeal cancer types: Carcinoma stages
The first step of laryngeal cancer treatment is detecting the present stage of neoplasia. It helps further classification into early and advanced stages.
We classify it into 5 stages:
- Stage 0 (carcinoma in situ)
- Stage 1 (nascent carcinoma)
- Stage 2 (early carcinoma)
- Stage 3 (locally advanced carcinoma)
- Stage 4 (advanced carcinoma)
In stage 0, abnormal cell growth stays confined to the inner lining of the larynx.
During stages 1, 2, and 3, cancer gradually spreads across the vocal cord with frequent throat discomfort.
In stage 4, the cancerous infection is full-fledged, risking metastasis elsewhere.
Suspected laryngeal cancer symptoms
Most laryngeal cancer symptoms appear after stage 2 when a throat lump or soreness becomes a prolonged condition.
If voice hoarseness persists beyond three weeks, we suggest visiting a physician or ENT specialist to get diagnosed with the underlying health condition. More details on the suspected symptoms:
- Prolonged throat soreness.
- Hoarseness of voice (over three weeks).
- Feeling a lump in the throat and passing of blood with cough (a feature of stage 3 laryngeal cancer).
- Making wheezing sounds (dysphonia during breathing and talking).
- Discomfort during swallowing and facing difficulty in oral consumption.
- Unexplained head, neck and ear pain (a feature of stage 2 laryngeal cancer).
- Instances of persistent bad breath issues.
- Feeling breathlessness (dyspnoea) while speaking.
Laryngeal cancer diagnosis: Detecting the infection
Patients with prolonged throat infections are among the primary suspects of laryngeal cancer. Visiting an ENT specialist will ensure prompt diagnosis to identify the potential site.
We use the following techniques for accurate prognosis:
- Imaging diagnosis (X-ray, CT scan, and MRI) to gather a visual understanding of the cancerous presence in the larynx.
- PET (positron emission tomography) scans to create a 3D image of the potential spread of infection (injects radioactive probes, which illuminate upon scanning).
- Biopsy of suspected laryngeal tissue lining to detect potential carcinogenic activities.
- Performing laryngoscopy, which is a thin fibre tube (endoscope) with a head-on illumination to provide clarity about underlying laryngeal cancer types.
Laryngeal cancer treatment: Potential remedies
The treatment depends on laryngeal cancer types (early or advanced stages of infection).
While immunotherapy can effectively reverse stages 0, 1 and 2, surgery is the potential choice during stages 3 and 4.
Specialists like oncologists, ENTs, radiologists and surgeons may use the following therapy based on the underlying cancerous condition. This includes:
- Radiation therapy (using a lethal high-energy beam that targets the affected tissue, leaving the healthy cell mass unharmed).
- Chemotherapy (injecting anti-cancerous agents that destroy the target tissue mass while showing minor non-lethal side effects).
- Immunotherapy (using suitable agents that bolster natural immunity barriers as a biological method to destroy affected tissue mass from within).
- Laryngectomy (surgical removal of the larynx) is the last option for advanced laryngeal cancer types to prevent metastasis (spreading of cancer) in the body.
Laryngeal cancer prevention: Pre-emptive approach
Patients can get laryngeal cancer as an acquired disorder or inherited illness (family history of carcinoma).
Preventing future complications requires recognising the potential factors while adjusting lifestyle and taking adequate clinical measures at the earliest.
We suggest the following preventive measures:
- Do not consume alcohol or smoke tobacco.
- Visit a physician when experiencing prolonged throat conditions (don’t ignore them).
- Speak with a specialist about the potential history of having carcinoma in the family.
- Wear a face mask when going out (it protects the oral and nasal cavity, preventing contaminants from reaching the windpipe).
- Wear precautionary clothing/accessories if working in a hazardous environment (prevents asbestosis, silicosis, and various occupational disorders).
- Get complete health checkups (they help diagnose potential health anomalies that are otherwise asymptomatic).
Laryngeal cancer is not a life-threatening condition. However, it risks the loss of voice from a laryngectomy performed as an emergency measure (stage 4).
The best outcome of reversing potential neoplasia is possible through early detection. Non-surgical options like immunotherapy and radiotherapy help destroy underlying infections.
Prone to unexplained throat pain? Presence of blood while coughing? These are among the suspected laryngeal cancer symptoms.