Larynx Cancer (Throat Cancer)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Cancer 101: Cancer Explained

Quick GuideUnderstanding Cancer: Metastasis, Stages of Cancer, Pictures

Understanding Cancer: Metastasis, Stages of Cancer, Pictures

How is throat cancer staging determined?

Throat cancer staging is determined by a TNM staging system. The system was developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) and is presented below.

AJCC Cancer Staging

  • T stands for tumor (how far it has spread within the larynx or pharynx and to nearby tissues).
  • N describes whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.
  • M stands for metastasis (spread of the cancer) to distant organs.

All of this information is combined to arrive at a disease stage. After stage 0 (which is carcinoma in situ or cancer that has not grown beyond the cells lining the throat), stages are labeled using Roman numerals from I through IV (that is, 1 through 4). The smaller the number, the less the cancer has spread. A higher number, for example stage IV, indicates a more serious stage of the disease.

What kinds of specialists treat throat cancer?

Most institutions take a team approach to each individual with throat cancer. In general, depending upon the extent of the individual's cancer (see, TMN system above), a person's team of specialists may include the following:

  • Oncologists
  • Surgeons
  • Plastic surgeons
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Swallowing experts
  • Dentists
  • Speech pathologists
  • Dietitians
  • Therapists (physical, occupational, and speech)

The involvement of many specialists has been found to provide an individual with the best chance of treating and/or surviving the various types of throat cancers and reducing symptoms. These specialists also can identify local support groups that can help the patient and family members cope with the lifestyle changes needed to live well with the disease.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/30/2016

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