HEAD AND NECK CANCER GUIDE
Laryngeal cancer occurs when cells in the body, in this case, laryngeal cells, multiply and divide uncontrolled. Normally, the cells divide and multiply in a controlled manner. If cells multiply uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a tissue mass called a tumor is formed.
Cancer cells can invade nearby tissues and spread to other regions of the body. A benign tumor does not invade other tissues and does not spread.
The larynx is a short passage that is just below the throat pharynx. It is about 2 centimeters wide and has three main parts:
- Supraglottic is the tissue above the vocal cords;
- Glotta is the central region of the larynx, where the vocal cords are located;
- The subglottis is the lower glottic tissue.
Larynx connects to the trachea, which carries the air to the lungs. Laryngeal cancer can develop in any region of the larynx but normally begins in the glottis. The inner larynx walls are aligned with cells called squamous cells, and most laryngeal cancers begin in these cells.
Symptoms of laryngeal cancer may include:
- a voice change, such as persistent hoarfrost;
- difficulty or pain when swallowed;
- breathing difficulties;
- persistent coughing;
- a lump in the throat.