Laryngeal cancers are, like other cancers, a serious and disorganized growth of abnormal tissues. Laryngeal cancers usually start at the surface and spread deeper into the vocal cord. Untreated, they may grow into deeper tissues of the voice box and even spread to other parts of the body. Laryngeal cancers, if they are found very early are highly curable. Fortunately, we are able to identify laryngeal cancers early because they usually cause hoarseness. For this reason hoarseness that persists more than a few weeks, particularly in smokers, deserves an evaluation by visualizing the larynx.
Laryngeal cancers vary according to their appearance, size, and location. These variables often contribute to the symptoms that laryngeal cancers cause. Video stroboscopy can be helpful in evaluating changes that occur in vocal fold vibration when cancers began to grow and alter normal voice function. Microscopic laryngeal surgery is usually needed to make a diagnosis. The size, location, and aggressiveness of the cancer usually determine what treatment is needed. Treatment may include surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Many times surgery alone or radiation alone may be used to treat laryngeal cancers and preserve the best voice function. Often, a choice of treatments is available and your doctor should be able to discuss the benefits and risks associated with treating these cancers.