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Laryngeal Cancers

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Laryngeal Cancers

The larynx (larynx) consists of three parts: the middle part (glottis) where the vocal cords are located, the supraglottic part above the vocal cords, and the subglottic part below the glottis. The subglottic section continues towards the lungs as the windpipe (trachea).

90% of laryngeal cancers are squamous cell carcinoma. The tumor often originates from the glottis and supraglottic larynx, where the vocal cords are located.

What are the Risk Factors?

The risk is high in those who consume tobacco and excessive alcohol and in individuals over the age of 60. Approximately 90% of patients are smokers, and it is suggested that 15 years of smoking increases the risk by up to 30 times.

What are the symptoms of laryngeal cancer?

Symptoms vary depending on the part of the larynx where the tumor is located. The most common symptom is hoarseness. While hoarseness is seen in the early stages of glottic cancers, it is seen in the late stages of supraglottic and subglottic cancers. If your hoarseness continues for two weeks, be sure to consult a specialist. Supraglottic cancer does not show symptoms until obvious lesions such as airway obstruction, difficulty swallowing, earache, or weight loss appear. A mass in the neck due to lymph node metastasis can sometimes be the first symptom. Difficulty in swallowing and earache (otalgia) symptoms are more common in supraglottic cancers. Symptoms such as cough and, in advanced stages, narrowing and obstruction of the airway may also be observed in laryngeal cancer.

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Is It Possible to Make Early Diagnosis?

Since voice change/hoarseness, swallowing and breathing symptoms begin to appear early, it is possible to diagnose tumors affecting the vocal cords at an early stage. However, when supraglottic and subglottic tumors can be diagnosed, the tumor has usually grown and progressed.

How to Diagnose?

Diagnosis is made by laryngoscopy and biopsy. While 60% of patients have only localized disease, 25% have local disease and regional nodal metastatic spread, and 15% have advanced disease, distant metastases, or both. Distant metastases are often seen in the lungs and liver.

What are the Stages of Throat Cancer?

Staging is the same as for oral cavity cancers.

How Is Throat Cancer Treated?

Depending on the size and location of the tumor, treatment includes only surgery or surgery along with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. In some laryngeal cancers diagnosed early, the cancerous tissue can be cut and removed with a laser beam. Depending on the spread of the tumor, it may be necessary to remove a single vocal cord (cordectomy), a part of the larynx (partial laryngectomy), or the entire larynx (total laryngectomy). In these surgeries, a hole is opened in the front of the neck leading to the windpipe (tracheostomy) and the patient is allowed to breathe from there. Since the entire larynx is removed in total laryngectomy, this hole is permanent. In other surgeries, the hole is closed after the surgical area has healed. If there is metastasis to the lymph nodes in the neck or if there is a high probability of spread, the lymph nodes in the neck may need to be removed (neck dissection) during surgery. Patients may experience voice loss and difficulty swallowing due to tumor or surgical intervention, and these findings are treated with special rehabilitation after cancer treatment. Even in cases where total laryngectomy is performed, patients can learn to speak using their trachea, lungs or esophagus with special training. Special devices worn around the neck can be used to assist in this process.

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Is it possible to be protected?

You can reduce the risk of cancer by avoiding habits that carry a high risk of cancer, especially tobacco use, and by making the necessary adjustments in your life for a healthy life.

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