Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal cancer is a cancer of the larynx, or voice box. The larynx is in the throat, behind the tongue and above the windpipe. It contains the vocal cords and produces sound for speaking. 

Laryngeal cancer is rare. It affects about 14,000 people a year in the United States, mostly men. The number of new cases of laryngeal cancer is dropping 2 to 3 percent a year, most likely because fewer people are smoking.

Risk factors that can increase your chances of getting laryngeal cancer include:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Heavy alcohol use
  •  Male over 40

Other risk factors include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection
  • Diet low in fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Regular exposure to substances like coal dust, paint fumes and chemicals

Treatment

There are several treatment options for treating laryngeal cancer, including:

  • Surgery to remove the cancer may include removing part or all of the larynx or vocal cords and/or part or all of thyroid gland.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells and is often used with other treatments.
  • Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells and stop them from growing.
  • Targeted therapy uses drugs to attack specific cancer cells and causes less harm to normal cells than radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Clinical trials test new treatment options.

Your Penn State Cancer Institute doctor will discuss the best way to treat your cancer. Your plan will depend on the type and extent, or stage, of cancer. All cancer decisions are reviewed by a multidisciplinary team including surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, and pathologists.

Treatment options depend on:

  • Stage of the tumor. A lower stage of disease, such as stage 1, indicates a cancer confined to one area. A higher stage, such as stage 4, indicates a cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.
  • Location and size of cancer/tumor
  • Keeping patient’s ability to eat, talk and breathe as normal as possible
  • Whether the cancer has come back (reoccurred)

Care Team

You may see one or more of the following specialists for your cancer treatment.
Salah Almokadem, DO, MBChB Salah Almokadem, DO, MBChB Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Melissa Boltz, DO Melissa Boltz, DO Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Karen Choi, MD Karen Choi, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
David Goldenberg, MD, FACS David Goldenberg, MD, FACS Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Neerav Goyal, MD, MPH Neerav Goyal, MD, MPH Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Diane Hershock, MD, PhD Diane Hershock, MD, PhD Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Jessyka Lighthall, MD Jessyka Lighthall, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Heath Mackley, MD, FACRO Heath Mackley, MD, FACRO Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Marc Rovito, MD Marc Rovito, MD Hematology/Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Brian Saunders, MD Brian Saunders, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Leila Tchelebi, MD Leila Tchelebi, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile

Locations

Penn State Cancer Institute

Penn State Cancer Institute

400 University Dr
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-6585
Penn State Health Medical Group - Nyes Road Specialties

Penn State Health Medical Group - Nyes Road Specialties

121 N Nyes Rd
Suite C
Harrisburg, PA 17112

Phone: 717-657-4045
Penn State Health Medical Group Camp Hill - Specialties

Penn State Health Medical Group Camp Hill - Specialties

3025 Market St
Entrance A
Camp Hill, PA 17011

Phone: 717-761-8900
Penn State Health Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery/Pediatric Surgery

Penn State Health Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery/Pediatric Surgery

200 Campus Dr
Suite 400 | Entrance 2
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-6822

Clinical Trials

Groups, Classes and Support

Support groups offer an opportunity to connect with other patients, caregivers and families. Learn more about support groups offered at Penn State Cancer Institute.

Prevention and Screening

There are no recommended screenings for laryngeal cancer. Call your doctor if you have any symptoms of this disease.

You can take steps to reduce your risk of developing laryngeal cancer:

  • Stop smoking or don’t start smoking.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all.
  • Choose a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Consider the HPV vaccine to protect against this sexually transmitted disease.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Laryngeal cancer is a cancer of the larynx, or voice box.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of laryngeal cancer include:

  • Persistent cough 
  • Hoarseness 
  • Sore throat that doesn't go away
  • Lump in throat or neck
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • Ear pain

Diagnosis

If you experience symptoms of laryngeal cancer, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.

Your doctor will do a physical exam of your throat and neck to check for abnormalities. He or she will also examine the inside of your mouth and the tongue. 

The following tests may be used to diagnose laryngeal cancer:

  • Biopsy. A small sample of skin taken from the mouth is examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells. Your doctor will remove the skin sample using a thin instrument inserted into your mouth.
  • Imaging tests. These tests use X-rays or radio waves to create a picture of the inside of your body. Your doctor may use them to determine if cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Tests include computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), PET-CT and bone scans.

Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal cancer is a cancer of the larynx, or voice box. The larynx is in the throat, behind the tongue and above the windpipe. It contains the vocal cords and produces sound for speaking. 

Laryngeal cancer is rare. It affects about 14,000 people a year in the United States, mostly men. The number of new cases of laryngeal cancer is dropping 2 to 3 percent a year, most likely because fewer people are smoking.

Risk factors that can increase your chances of getting laryngeal cancer include:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Heavy alcohol use
  •  Male over 40

Other risk factors include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection
  • Diet low in fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Regular exposure to substances like coal dust, paint fumes and chemicals

There are several treatment options for treating laryngeal cancer, including:

  • Surgery to remove the cancer may include removing part or all of the larynx or vocal cords and/or part or all of thyroid gland.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells and is often used with other treatments.
  • Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells and stop them from growing.
  • Targeted therapy uses drugs to attack specific cancer cells and causes less harm to normal cells than radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Clinical trials test new treatment options.

Your Penn State Cancer Institute doctor will discuss the best way to treat your cancer. Your plan will depend on the type and extent, or stage, of cancer. All cancer decisions are reviewed by a multidisciplinary team including surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, and pathologists.

Treatment options depend on:

  • Stage of the tumor. A lower stage of disease, such as stage 1, indicates a cancer confined to one area. A higher stage, such as stage 4, indicates a cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.
  • Location and size of cancer/tumor
  • Keeping patient’s ability to eat, talk and breathe as normal as possible
  • Whether the cancer has come back (reoccurred)
You may see one or more of the following specialists for your cancer treatment.
Salah Almokadem, DO, MBChB Salah Almokadem, DO, MBChB Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Melissa Boltz, DO Melissa Boltz, DO Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Karen Choi, MD Karen Choi, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
David Goldenberg, MD, FACS David Goldenberg, MD, FACS Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Neerav Goyal, MD, MPH Neerav Goyal, MD, MPH Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Diane Hershock, MD, PhD Diane Hershock, MD, PhD Medical Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Jessyka Lighthall, MD Jessyka Lighthall, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Heath Mackley, MD, FACRO Heath Mackley, MD, FACRO Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Marc Rovito, MD Marc Rovito, MD Hematology/Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Brian Saunders, MD Brian Saunders, MD Surgeon View Researcher Profile
Leila Tchelebi, MD Leila Tchelebi, MD Radiation Oncologist View Researcher Profile
Penn State Cancer Institute

Penn State Cancer Institute

400 University Dr
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-6585
Penn State Health Medical Group - Nyes Road Specialties

Penn State Health Medical Group - Nyes Road Specialties

121 N Nyes Rd
Suite C
Harrisburg, PA 17112

Phone: 717-657-4045
Penn State Health Medical Group Camp Hill - Specialties

Penn State Health Medical Group Camp Hill - Specialties

3025 Market St
Entrance A
Camp Hill, PA 17011

Phone: 717-761-8900
Penn State Health Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery/Pediatric Surgery

Penn State Health Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery/Pediatric Surgery

200 Campus Dr
Suite 400 | Entrance 2
Hershey, PA 17033

Phone: 717-531-6822
Support groups offer an opportunity to connect with other patients, caregivers and families. Learn more about support groups offered at Penn State Cancer Institute.

There are no recommended screenings for laryngeal cancer. Call your doctor if you have any symptoms of this disease.

You can take steps to reduce your risk of developing laryngeal cancer:

  • Stop smoking or don’t start smoking.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation or not at all.
  • Choose a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
  • Consider the HPV vaccine to protect against this sexually transmitted disease.
Laryngeal cancer is a cancer of the larynx, or voice box.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of laryngeal cancer include:

  • Persistent cough 
  • Hoarseness 
  • Sore throat that doesn't go away
  • Lump in throat or neck
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • Ear pain

Diagnosis

If you experience symptoms of laryngeal cancer, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.

Your doctor will do a physical exam of your throat and neck to check for abnormalities. He or she will also examine the inside of your mouth and the tongue. 

The following tests may be used to diagnose laryngeal cancer:

  • Biopsy. A small sample of skin taken from the mouth is examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells. Your doctor will remove the skin sample using a thin instrument inserted into your mouth.
  • Imaging tests. These tests use X-rays or radio waves to create a picture of the inside of your body. Your doctor may use them to determine if cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Tests include computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), PET-CT and bone scans.