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Laryngeal Cancer: Comprehensive Guide To Types And Stages

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Laryngeal-Cancer-Comprehensive-Guide-To-Types-And-Stages

Laryngeal Cancer: Comprehensive Guide To Types And Stages

Laryngeal-Cancer-Comprehensive-Guide-To-Types-And-Stages

 

Cancer in the larynx or voice box is called laryngeal cancer. The larynx is a part of our throat that aids in speaking, breathing, and swallowing. The vocal cords are present here. Cancer occurs when the cells in the larynx grow uncontrollably.

Many cancers in the voice box start on the surface and are called squamous cell carcinoma. There are also rarer types of voice box cancer from the small salivary glands or other tissues like muscles and cartilage.

Besides affecting your voice, laryngeal cancer can damage other body parts, too. Survival depends on the cancer’s location and stage. Let’s learn how this cancer affects the larynx, its types, risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.

How Can Cancer Affect The Larynx?

Laryngeal cancer can affect any of the below three parts.

  • Supraglottis (Upper Part) – It is the tissues above the structure producing sound called epiglottis.
  • Glottis (Middle Part) – It is vocal cords producing sounds.
  • Subglottis (Lower Part) – This area is above the windpipe or trachea and below the vocal cords.

Laryngeal cancer affects these parts in different ways. About one in three cancers in the larynx begins in the supraglottis or upper part. About half of the cancers originate in the glottis or middle part. Around 1 in 20 cancers begin in the subglottis or lower part. The cancerous cells uncontrollably grow in these parts. They keep on multiplying and invade other tissues and organs.

Types Of Laryngeal Cancer

Most larynx cancers begin as thin, flat cells lining the larynx. They are called squamous cell carcinoma. There are also some less common types of larynx cancer:

  • Sarcoma: This cancer starts in the connective tissues of the larynx.
  • Lymphoma: It is a cancer affecting the lymphatic tissue in the larynx.
  • Adenocarcinoma: This cancer originates in the glandular cells of the larynx.
  • Neuroendocrine carcinoma: Arises from cells similar to nerve cells that regulate hormone production. These hormones govern the functionality of various organs within the body.

Causes Of Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal cancer develops due to alterations in the cells of the larynx, often occurring when cells in the throat sustain damage and proliferate excessively. These extra cells can form lumps called tumours. Laryngeal cancers are tumours that start in your voice box.

Smoking is a common cause of the mutations harming cells in your voice box. Other reasons can include:

  • Human papillomavirus or HPV exposure
  • Alcohol
  • Poor nutrition
  • Toxin exposure (e.g. asbestos)
  • Weak immune system
  • Genetic conditions like Fanconi anemia

Risk Factors For Laryngeal Cancer

Smoking and drinking alcohol are primary risk factors for cancer in the larynx. Consumption of tobacco and alcohol together is even more dangerous. Other risk factors include –

  • Inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables
  • It occurs in people around 55 or above
  • Consuming more processed foods
  • Individuals with a head and neck cancer history
  • People exposed to wood dust, sulphuric acid mist, mustard gas, asbestos, etc.
  • Individuals with a throat cancer family history

Symptoms Of Laryngeal Cancer

It can be tricky to tell if you have laryngeal cancer. The early signs are similar to other problems. The main symptom is having a scratchy or hoarse voice. It doesn’t get better after a few weeks. This might seem like a regular cold, but it could be more serious. If you notice the below signs, talk to a doctor.

  • Cough or sore throat that is not improving
  • Hoarseness staying for weeks
  • Lump in the throat or neck
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Pain in the ear
  • Noisy or high-pitched breathing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • A feeling of something stuck in your throat
  • Blood in the cough

Diagnostic Procedures

When treating laryngeal cancer, your doctor will first ask about your health history. If you have signs suggesting cancer, the doctor will assess and do some tests. Diagnostic tests include:

  • Imaging scans (CT or MRI) – Provide detailed images of the body’s interior, showing tumour size and location.
  • X-ray – A chest X-ray can detect lung metastases, indicating cancer spread.
  • Laryngoscopy – Involves using an endoscope to visually examine the larynx.
  • PET scans – Utilise a safe radioactive substance to highlight cancerous areas.
  • Biopsy – This entails removing tissue for microscopic examination by a pathologist.

Staging Of Laryngeal Cancer

As part of the diagnostic process, staging determines the severity of the cancer, including the extent of tumour growth and invasion into surrounding tissues.

Cancer in the larynx has different stages:

  • Early laryngeal cancer: At stages 0, 1, and 2, the cancer is small. It hasn’t spread beyond your voice box.
  • Advanced laryngeal cancer: At stages 3 and 4, the cancer is more serious. The tumour is bigger. It may have affected your vocal cords or spread to lymph nodes and other body parts.

Treatment Options For Laryngeal Cancer

Cancer in the larynx can be treated via different methods –

  • Radiation Therapy: Oncologists use strong rays to kill cancer cells. They target only the tumours to minimise damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Chemotherapy: Oncologists use medicines to kill or slow down cancer cells. People often receive these medicines through their veins.
  • Immunotherapy: This treatment uses your body’s natural defences, the immune system, to fight cancer. It’s also known as biological therapy.
  • Targeted Therapy: This treatment focuses on specific proteins in cancer cells to stop them from growing.
  • Surgery: For early cancer, surgery can remove the tumour. It keeps your larynx intact, allowing you to speak and swallow. A laryngectomy (surgery to remove part or all of your larynx) may be needed in advanced cases.

Sometimes, people may undergo a combination of treatments. For example, chemotherapy or radiation therapy might follow surgery to ensure all cancer cells are gone.

Prevention tips

One can make a few lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of cancer in the larynx:

  • Minimise or eliminate tobacco consumption
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Follow a healthy diet rich in antioxidants
  • Use appropriate equipment when in close contact with toxic substances

How Punarjan Ayurveda Treats Laryngeal Cancer?

Many people have successfully overcome this challenge with Punarjan Ayurveda’s unique treatment approach. We believe in the body’s healing ability and focus on finding balance.

Our skilled Ayurvedic doctors don’t just treat cancer symptoms; they target the root cause. We boost the body’s natural defences. Treatment involves changes in diet, herbal medicines, etc. Plans are customised for each patient based on their health and cancer stage.

We believe patients can actively participate in their healing. Our team tracks progress, encourages open communication, and collaborates to achieve positive outcomes. Punarjan Ayurveda emphasises personalised care, Ayurvedic knowledge, and a supportive community.

Let’s look at the different ways used by Punarjan Ayurveda to treat the issue –

  • Cell Nourishment: Special ingredients like bhasmas help your cells grow and stay healthy. Packed with antioxidants, these super nutrients act like cleaners inside your body. They protect your cells from harmful free radicals.
  • Balancing Doshas – In this step, we focus on harmonising the three Ayurvedic doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). When these doshas are out of balance, it can lead to the development of diseases.
  • Boosting Digestive Fire – Our treatments enhance your body’s ability to digest food (Agni). It effectively breaks down nutrients for absorption. When digestion is strong, it improves your overall health.
  • Heals Damaged Organs: We pay special attention to organs affected by cancer. Special herbs that naturally connect with these organs are used to promote their recovery. These herbs not only reduce stress but also boost mental strength.

Conclusion

The key to any cancer treatment is early detection, including laryngeal cancer. While there are no regular screenings for it, consult an expert upon experiencing hoarseness, persistent cough, or voice changes. Early laryngeal has an impressive cure rate. While advanced cancer might be challenging to cure, there are survival chances. Quit tobacco and alcohol to reduce the risk. Adopt a healthy eating regime and use the above knowledge to cope better with this life-threatening condition.

FAQs

Is Stage 4 Laryngeal Cancer Curable?

In stage 4, the cancer in the larynx spreads to other body parts. It may include the liver, lungs, or bones. The survival rate comes down to 30% in stage 4.

Can You Speak After Laryngeal Cancer?

If the voice box has been removed during the surgery, speaking will no longer be possible.

What Is The Recovery Time For Larynx Cancer?

The recovery time for larynx cancer varies depending on the stage of the cancer, the type of treatment received, and individual factors, but it can range from several weeks to several months. Rehabilitation for speech and swallowing may continue for an extended period after treatment.

What Is The Best Treatment For Larynx Cancer?

The best treatment for larynx cancer depends on the stage and location of the cancer but often includes a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Is Laryngectomy A Major Surgery?

Yes, it is a major surgery done at hospitals with proper facilities. It includes removing a component of your larynx or all of it.

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