What Is Laryngeal Cancer?

Illustration of the larynx

The larynx, also called the voice box, is a short passageway formed by cartilage in the neck, just below the pharynx. It leads to the trachea (windpipe).

The larynx contains the vocal cords, which enable you to speak. It also includes a small piece of tissue called the epiglottis, which folds down to cover the larynx when you swallow, so food and liquids will not go down your air passages.

What causes laryngeal cancer?

Smoking or chewing tobacco and/or heavy drinking are the main causes of laryngeal cancer. Other risk factors include long-term chemical exposure.

What are the symptoms of laryngeal cancer?

  • Hoarseness
  • Cough that won’t go away
  • Difficulty swallowing, or pain when swallowing
  • Lump in the neck
  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty breathing

How is laryngeal cancer diagnosed?