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 and Delivery of High Quality Cancer Care in Essex"
NHS Essex Cancer Network

Laryngeal Cancer

About

Laryngeal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the larynx (voice box).

The larynx is part of the throat found at the entrance of the windpipe (trachea). It plays an important role in helping you breathe and speak.

In the UK, there are about 2,400 new cases of laryngeal cancer each year.

The condition is more common in people over the age of 60. It's about four times more common in men than women.

Symptoms of laryngeal cancer

The main symptoms of laryngeal cancer include:

  • a change in your voice, such as sounding hoarse
  • pain when swallowing or difficulty swallowing 
  • a lump or swelling in your neck
  • a long-lasting cough
  • a persistent sore throat or earache
  • in severe cases, difficulty breathing

Some people may also experience bad breath, breathlessness, a high-pitched wheezing noise when breathing, unexplained weight loss, or fatigue (extreme tiredness).

When to see your GP

You should visit your GP if you have had any of the main symptoms listed above for more than three weeks.

These symptoms are often caused by less serious conditions, such as laryngitis, but it's a good idea to get them checked out.

If necessary, your GP can refer you to a hospital specialist for further tests to confirm or rule out cancer.

Read more about diagnosing laryngeal cancer.

What causes laryngeal cancer?

It's not clear exactly what causes laryngeal cancer, but your risk of getting the condition is increased by:

  • smoking tobacco
  • regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol
  • having a family history of head and neck cancer
  • having an unhealthy diet
  • exposure to certain chemicals and substances, such as asbestos and coal dust

By adopting a healthy lifestyle, including avoiding alcohol and tobacco, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing laryngeal cancer.

Read more about the causes of laryngeal cancer and preventing laryngeal cancer.

How laryngeal cancer is treated

The main treatments for laryngeal cancer are radiotherapy, surgery and chemotherapy.

Radiotherapy or surgery to remove the cancerous cells from the larynx can often cure laryngeal cancer if it's diagnosed early.

If the cancer is advanced, a combination of surgery to remove part or all of the larynx, radiotherapy and chemotherapy can be used.

If you have surgery to remove your larynx, you'll no longer be able to speak or breathe in the usual way. Instead, you will breathe through a permanent hole in your neck (stoma) and you will need additional treatment to help restore your voice.

This may include an implant in your throat, or an electrical device you hold against your throat to produce sound.

Read more about treating laryngeal cancer and recovering from laryngeal cancer surgery.

Outlook

The outlook for laryngeal cancer depends on the extent of the cancer when it's diagnosed and treated.

Fortunately, most laryngeal cancers are diagnosed at an early stage, which means the outlook is generally better than some other types of cancer.

Overall, about 70 out of every 100 people will live for at least 5 years after diagnosis and about 60 out of every 100 people will live for at least 10 years.

If you smoke, stopping smoking after being diagnosed with laryngeal cancer may improve your outlook.

Further information on laryngeal cancer

Information Prescription Service

To access the Information Prescription Service and the national cancer information pathway for laryngeal cancer (cancer of the larynx) please click on the link below. Then click on 'Specialist information from our charity partners'

www.nhs.uk

Macmillan Cancer Support Website

www.macmillan.org.uk

Cancer Research UK Website

www.cancerresearchuk.org

Further Information

Visit or phone a local cancer information centre

There are several cancer information and support centres in Essex Cancer Network where anyone affected by cancer can be sure of a warm welcome and high quality, accurate, evidence-based information:

Basildon Hospital Macmillan Info and Support Centre, Outpatients Dept, Basildon Hospital, staffed Monday 2pm - Friday 12.30pm,tel: 0845 155 3111 extension 4908

Macmillan Info and Support Centre,Essex County Hospital, Outpatients Dept, Monday - Friday office hours, tel: 01206 747474

Information Resource Service, St Luke's House, Corringham,Thurrock, Monday to Friday office hours, tel: 01375 648170

Lantern Suite, Farleigh Hospice,Chelmsford, Monday to Friday office hours, tel: 01245 457418

Hospice Outreach Project Information Bus, Farleigh Hospice, covers the Chelmsford area. Contact Farleigh Hospice as above

For more information, please contact the service direct.

 

Visit your local library in Essex Cancer Network

Essex, Southend and Thurrock library services have worked in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and the Essex Cancer Network to establish collections of quality assured information books and pamphlets about cancer. These can be accessed at any library: just ask. Additionally some staff at libraries have been trained to help patients use the Information Prescription Service.

Contact Macmillan Cancer Support Helplines

If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just someone to talk to, call free, Monday to Friday 9am - 8pm (interpretation service available) tel: 0808 808 0000

For financial queries tel: 0808 808 2232

 

Remember: Stay safe online when looking for support!

Internet chat rooms and message forums can be valuable sources of support and comfort, enabling you to meet others in the same position. However, there is potential for abuse - please read these guidelines before you set off to explore...

Click here to download the draft guidelines

 

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