Larynx cancer

What is larynx cancer?
Larynx cancer is cancer of the voice box. It is also known as laryngeal cancer but more commonly known as throat cancer. The larynx is the organ in your throat at the front of your neck that allows you to talk, breathe and swallow. Larynx cancer may also spread to surrounding lymph nodes in the head and neck.

What causes larynx cancer?
It’s not clear what exactly causes larynx cancer but several factors have been identified that increase the risk of developing it:
• Smoking tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, and shisha (water pipe). Heavy smokers are most at risk
• Continued use of alcohol. Heavy drinkers are more likely to develop larynx cancer than non-drinkers
• Exposure to wood dust, mustard gas, asbestos and ionizing radiation
• Chronic gastric reflux
• Chronic irritation from laryngitis or voice abuse

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a person will definitely get larynx cancer but can increase their chances of developing it.

What are the symptoms of larynx cancer?
• Difficulty breathing or swallowing
• Hoarseness in the voice or other vocal changes noted by the patient and his or her family
• Ear pain
• Coughing up blood or solid material
• Persistent coughing
• Sore throat for more than 6 weeks

How is larynx cancer diagnosed?
In order to accurately diagnose and stage larynx cancer, your physician may order the following tests:
• CBC (complete blood count) test
• Thyroid function tests
• Fiber-optic  endoscopy for upper airway
• CT scan to evaluate the size and spread of the tumor
• Chest x-ray to detect any spread of the tumor to the lungs

How is larynx cancer treated at KHCC?
The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.

At KHCC, the treatment plan for larynx cancer depends on many factors, such as the patient’s age, and the stage of the disease, but typically includes varying degrees of surgery, radiotherapy and some chemotherapy. The current preferred treatment for patients with no distant spread of the tumor is chemotherapy in combination with radiotherapy. This treatment method is usually effective in controlling the disease in the vast majority of patients.

In more advanced cases, patients may need to have a laryngectomy, which is a surgery performed by a specialized ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon who removes the larynx. This is followed by extensive rehabilitation and training for patients so that they are able to talk again.

Primary voice restoration: In some treatment procedures for head and neck cancers, patients will experience a temporary loss of their voice, except for total laryngectomy where most lose their voice permanently. However the good news is the Head and Neck physicians at KHCC are the best in the region at performing a procedure known as Primary Voice Restoration and up to 90% of our patients recover their voice successfully.

Physicians
At KHCC, larynx cancer patients receive top quality care through a multidisciplinary team of head and neck cancer specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating cancers of the head and neck.

Supportive Care
The Head and Neck multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that larynx cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include:
Speech and language therapy
Dental evaluation and care