Cancer of your larynx affects your throat. It’s considered a type of head and neck cancer and we usually refer to it as laryngeal cancer or voice box cancer.

At Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute, our specialists combine world-renowned medical expertise, innovation and compassion to offer exceptional laryngeal cancer care. By creating personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries and collaborations with cancer researchers, our team works to treat your cancer effectively and provide you with whole-person care.

What is laryngeal cancer?

Laryngeal cancer occurs when malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of your larynx.

Your larynx is located between the base of your tongue and your windpipe (trachea). It houses your vocal cords, which vibrate and make sounds when air is pushed against them. The sounds then echo through your throat, mouth and nose to produce your voice.

Medical illustration of head and neck cancer regions.

When cancer affects your larynx, it has a significant effect on your quality of life by impacting the ability to swallow and your voice. In fact, hoarseness and voice changes are among the first symptoms of laryngeal cancer on your vocal cords. Voice changes may alert you to the possibility of cancer and help you find the disease at a very early stage, when it’s most treatable.

Laryngeal cancer usually begins in squamous cells, which are found in many of your body’s tissues, including your skin and respiratory tract. Physicians diagnose an estimated 12,000-plus new cases of the cancer each year.

Laryngeal cancer outcomes

If cancer is detected and treated early, before it spreads to other parts of your body, you’re likely to have an excellent outcome. We can usually treat stage I and stage II laryngeal cancers without removing your entire larynx.

Other factors that influence outcomes include the location of the cancer in your larynx (survival rates are best for cancer that start on your vocal cords, for example), your overall health, and if you use tobacco, whether you continue to do so after your diagnosis.

Risk Factors for Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal cancer is highly treatable — and even sometimes preventable. That’s why it’s important to know your risk factors.

Tobacco and alcohol use are among the most significant risk factors for laryngeal cancers.

Other risk factors include:

  • Having a history of human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Being male (men are up to five times more likely to get laryngeal cancer than women)
  • Being older than age 65
  • Being exposed to asbestos and chemicals
  • Having had Epstein-Barr virus (a virus in the herpes family)

Having risk factors doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get cancer. But it’s important to discuss concerns with your physician.

Preventing Laryngeal Cancer

Preventing laryngeal cancer often involves changing lifestyle behaviors.

Two of the greatest risk factors for laryngeal cancer are tobacco use and alcohol use. So eliminating tobacco use and keeping alcohol intake to a minimum can help prevent the disease.

Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute’s specialists recommend knowing and understanding your risk factors so that you can take appropriate steps to prevent or reduce your risk for laryngeal cancer.

If you’re at high risk for the disease, our cancer experts will talk with you about possible screening tests. They’ll also suggest steps you can take to lower your risk of developing the disease.

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Our cancer specialists at Baptist Health Miami Cancer Institute expertly combine the best of clinical research with the best of patient care to deliver your best outcomes.

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