Published: Jan. 20, 2010
Updated: Aug. 4, 2011
Laryngeal cancer is not as well known by the general public as other types of cancer, yet it is not rare. The American Cancer Society’s 2009 estimates (most recent data) for the U.S. population include 12,290 new cases of laryngeal cancer and 3,660 deaths as a result of laryngeal cancer. Laryngeal cancer impacts the voice, breathing, and swallowing.
If you have one or more risk factors for laryngeal cancer and have any of the above symptoms, see an otolaryngologist.
An otolaryngologist (ENT doctor and surgeon) will evaluate you by performing a thorough head and neck exam and laryngoscopy. If needed, a head/neck CT scan may be performed.
A biopsy (removing a small sample of tissue to check for cancerous or pre-cancerous cells) may also be performed. Once your doctor knows the nature of the problem, a treatment plan can be made.
Depending of the nature of the laryngeal cancer, a number of treatment options may be provided. The treatment of laryngeal cancer often involves a team approach to design the most appropriate treatment and to rehabilitate the voice and swallowing.
Your physician will inform you how many different treatment options are available to treat your specific condition. The primary treatment options for laryngeal cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments.
You may also see a speech pathologist, who can address voice and swallowing difficulties related to the cancer or the side effects from these treatments.
Remember that this is a preventable disease in the vast majority of cases, because the main risk factors are associated with modifiable behaviors. This disease is often considered curable if caught early enough.
Many treatment options are available to help you quit. Even if you’ve tried in the past, you may not have tried some of the newer and more successful options.
Your doctor may prescribe a medication which can help you stop. There are also other alternative options such as hypnosis and acupuncture, which help many patients.