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Throat cancer (larynx cancer) facts*

*Throat cancer (larynx cancer) facts medically edited by: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

  • The larynx is the voice box located at the top of the windpipe (trachea).
  • Cancer of the larynx occurs most often in people over the age of 55 years.
  • People who stop smoking can greatly reduce their risk of cancer of the larynx.
  • Painless hoarseness can be a symptom of cancer of the larynx.
  • The larynx can be examined with a viewing tube called a laryngoscope.
  • Treatment of cancer of the larynx depends on the location and size of the tumor as well as the age and health of the patient.
  • Cancer of the larynx usually is treated with radiation therapy or surgery. Chemotherapy can also be used for cancers that have spread beyond the larynx.
Return to Larynx Cancer (Throat Cancer)

See what others are saying

Comment from: 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: March 31

In December of 2011 I became hoarse. Being an answering service operator and it being an extremely busy time of year for the business, I attributed the hoarseness to talking so much. In January of 2012 I had an appointment with my general physician (GP) just for a checkup and I mentioned to her that I had been hoarse and she immediately got me an appointment with an ENT doctor. The day of my appointment, after running a camera down my throat, he informed me that I had a tumor on my larynx and would need immediate surgery. I had a partial laryngectomy done with no chemotherapy or radiation afterwards because he and my cancer doctor thought they "had gotten it all" with the surgery. About 6 months later I started having pain on the left side of my neck, which my ENT doctor kept telling me was scar tissue. He finally did a PET scan and found that the throat cancer had returned and I had to have my voice box and thyroid removed. I then had 33 radiation treatments and 6 weeks of chemotherapy. That was a very rough time. I'm still suffering from dry mouth. I had a feeding tube for 9 months and lost 60 lbs. I was 59 years old when I was initially diagnosed and had been a smoker but had quit 7 years earlier. I was never a heavy drinker. I am in the process of getting a device where I can talk. I have a very loving family and strong support system that has helped me get through this. Don"t wait, see your doctor right away if you have any unusual symptoms. It could easily save your life!

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Comment from: Megan, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: January 03

At 24 years old I had a hoarse voice for a few months. I never smoked and was not a drinker. I went to the general physician who referred me to an ENT. Because of my age and non-risk factors, it took them 3 months and 2 biopsies to diagnose stage II laryngeal caner. I started radiation and chemotherapy just before my 25th birthday. I underwent 7 weeks of daily radiation and 4 cycles of chemotherapy treatments. The chemotherapy didn't make me as ill as the anti-fungal medicine they prescribed for me to take... which I stopped taking because it made me so sick! I opted not to have a feeding/peg-tube inserted but managed to get down a few pieces of watermelon and an instant breakfast shake daily, even though I could hardly swallow. I carried around a water bottle as my spittoon because it was too painful to even swallow my own spit. After treatment I had another 9 cycles of IV fluids because I wasn't getting enough hydration (this helped my energy levels immensely!) I finished treatments in April of 2007, taste buds came back in August. Even 6 years on, dry mouth is still an everyday issue. My left vocal cord is now paralyzed from the treatments so I speak with a hoarse voice all the time. But I'm thankful that I'm alive and that I have any voice at all.

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Comment from: Cupcake, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 29

I'm 46 year female. I went from April of 08 to Nov 08 with mild sore throat and bad cough, and some hoarseness. So from a promise I made to my family. I went to the ENT for him to let me know I had something suspicious. He immediately set me up with appointment with a specialist. There I was told of larynx cancer. Feb of 09 to late Mar I did my 7 wks of radiation and 1 day a wk for 5 wks of cemo. Also I had g-tube put in. I weighed in at 170 and come out 123. I was lucky not to be sick at the time of treatment. I got sick after lost a little more weight and lost my voice. My voice came back got the G-tube out Aug 6. Put some weight back on not a lot but was feeling good. Went in June for checkup for pet scan to find out it's gone. Everything is great. Dec. 09 I feel a little itchy in throat same symptoms. Its back and it's not good I don't think it ever went away. Radiation or cancer ate up my voice box I coughed up pieces of it. I was so scared. Well they took out the voice box, I now have a trac. And this all happened Feb 19 2010 I feel great now. I'm Alive and I thank God for that. I was a heavy drinker and smoker. I can say if you find yourself in my shoes. Keep a positive attitude pray and just take it day by day you'll make it. I still am not out of the woods but everything looks good. I have some procedures to undergo next week to get a voice. So we'll let ya know about that week after.

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