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Laryngeal cancer: symptoms and signs, extent, treatment and prognosis

When it comes to cancer of the throat, then, in most cases, this malignant neoplasm develops in one of the departments of the larynx, less often - the pharynx (see photo).

Larynx cancer accounts for about 3-8% of all malignant tumors and this is the most common tumor in the practice of the ENT doctor. Consider the main aspects of this problem and its treatment.


Laryngeal cancer, what is it?

Throat cancer is a malignant tumor that can affect different parts of the hypopharynx. It is capable of exophytic (outward) and infiltrative (inward) growth, and in the course of its development produces distant and regional metastases. Cancer of the larynx is a tumor of one of the sections of the throat - the larynx.

Larynx cancer

a photo

Typically, this education is detected in patients of elderly and senile age, but it can also appear in a child. Throat cancer is found several times more often in men than in women.

Smoking women are prone to illness several times more than their non-smoking neighbors. Among urban residents, the disease is more common than among rural ones.

Among the factors that contribute to the development of this pathology, in the first place emit tobacco smoking. Certain importance is attached to occupational hazards (dust, inhalation of gases, etc.), alcohol, increased load on the voice (singers, teachers, etc.).

Often a cancer tumor develops against the background of the already existing pathological conditions of the hypopharynx. Thus, in about half of the patients, throat cancer developed on the background of chronic laryngitis (hyperplastic form).

Important! Other risk factors include gastroesophageal reflux, because the acidic contents of the stomach and esophagus constantly irritate the laryngopharynx, which can lead to malignant cell degeneration, as well as juvenile papillomatosis.

A throat tumor can form in a mature (keratinizing, differentiated) or immature (more malignant, poorly differentiated) form.

A mature tumor develops more slowly, it is less likely to metastasize at later stages. Unripe malformed cancer grows much faster and early metastases to other organs and tissues.

Important! Metastases are a secondary focus of tumor cell growth. Those. from the primary tumor, cancer cells are spread to other organs and tissues, giving rise to other neoplasms.

Depending on which area affects the tumor, emit:

1. Cancer of the pharynx . It is rare and mainly in the male. Carcinomas and sarcomas usually develop in this area. Early symptoms are very scanty, but this section is easier to inspect, so there are many chances to detect a tumor in the early stages.

2. Cancer of the upper part of the larynx. One of the most unfavorable tumor localization in terms of patient survival. It occurs in 15-20% of cases. This area is well supplied with blood, therefore, with the development of the tumor process, extensive and early metastasis occurs.

The first signs of laryngeal cancer are very weak and often patients confuse them with inflammation and infection. This leads to the fact that pathology is diagnosed in the late stages.

3. Tumor of the middle part of the larynx. It occurs in more than half of the patients; this is a prognostic “favorable” form of cancer.

The neoplasm usually appears on the vocal folds - this area has few lymph nodes, so metastasis is either not observed at all or develops in very late periods. Clinically, patients notice it much earlier due to the appearance of problems with the voice.

4. Cancer of the lower part of the larynx. Rarely encountered. This section is rich in lymphatic vessels and is well supplied with blood, therefore the tumor metastasizes early.

The first symptoms of laryngeal cancer

The first symptoms of laryngeal cancer

the first signs of cancer are not specific

One of the unpleasant features of such neoplasms is their poor symptoms in the early stages. The first signs of throat cancer are either not manifested at all or are simply ignored by the patient, who blames them for a cold or other pathology.

Consider the symptoms of laryngeal cancer in the early stages:

  1. Dryness, discomfort, burning in the throat.
  2. Sensation of coma and foreign body.
  3. Difficulty swallowing saliva, solid foods.
  4. Soreness in neck and ears.
  5. Hoarseness, change its timbre.

Such scarce symptoms lead to the fact that cancer of the larynx is detected in the later stages or on a random scheduled examination by an ENT doctor. Symptoms of throat cancer in women and men do not differ between themselves, except that women are more attentive to their health and the process is detected earlier - but it depends not on gender, but on the patient’s personal qualities.

Signs and symptoms of laryngeal cancer

symptoms of laryngeal cancer

symptoms of larynx cancer, photo

Symptoms of laryngeal cancer depend on the stage, the presence of metastases and the type of cancer. At different stages of the patient, the following symptoms may be of concern:

  1. Discomfort in the throat. Pain in cancer of the throat appear in the later stages, when the formation of a squeeze nerve endings. Such pains are very pronounced and do not stop taking conventional analgesics.
  2. Difficulty in swallowing. First there are problems with the use of solid food, then the tumor grows and the patient hardly swallows saliva and water.
  3. Fatigue, deaf voice.
  4. Cough.
  5. Swelling in the neck.
  6. Increased regional lymph nodes.
  7. Disruption of the general condition: weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, and others.

signs of laryngeal cancer

The disease is also manifested by other symptoms, especially when the tumor metastasizes to other organs, therefore the clinical picture is largely determined by the type and stage of the neoplasm.

Degree of throat cancer

Almost all tumors can be classified according to the international TNM system, where T is the size of the primary tumor itself, N is regional metastases, and M is distant metastases. According to this classification, the larynx is schematically divided into separate zones so that the prevalence of the pathological process can be assessed.

The size of the primary tumor is estimated as follows:

  • T1 means that the tumor has spread to one of the anatomical elements of the larynx and does not go beyond it;
  • T2 - the tumor completely occupied one of the anatomical elements of the larynx;
  • T3 - the pathological process has gone beyond one anatomical element of the larynx;
  • T4 says that the tumor has already spread beyond the larynx and there are distant metastases.

So assess the degree of damage to the regional (nearby) lymph nodes:

  • N0 - lymph nodes are not enlarged and not palpable;
  • N1 - unilateral lymph nodes are palpable;
  • N2 - large lymph nodes are palpated, soldered together.

Based on these criteria, throat cancer is divided into 4 stages. The first is T1N0M0, which should be understood as a tumor of one of the anatomical elements of the larynx, no metastases, nearby lymph nodes are not affected. Stage 4 can be written as T2N3M0. These data are necessary for a specialist to select an effective treatment for laryngeal cancer in 4 stages.

Diagnosis of throat cancer

Diagnosis of throat cancer

Early diagnosis is based on barely noticeable symptoms that make you suspect the presence of a tumor. Thus, the constant dryness, tickling and discomfort in the throat should alert both the patient and the specialist for laryngeal cancer.

Important! A common cause of diagnostic errors in the early stages is the similarity of manifestations with laryngitis and pharyngitis (inflammatory processes in the pharyngeal pharynx), so it is important to keep alert.

Help to recognize the tumor in the early stages will help regular routine inspection of the larynx with special tools and an endoscope.

The final diagnosis can only be made on the basis of histological examination. To do this, remove a small piece of suspicious tissue (biopsy) and examine it under a microscope.

CT, MRI , ultrasound and x-rays are used after confirming the diagnosis of throat cancer to clarify the prevalence of the process and the presence of regional or distant metastases.

Laryngeal cancer treatment

Laryngeal cancer treatment

There are several approaches to the treatment of laryngeal cancer, depending on the stage, cell structure and area of ​​its location. The main methods of treatment are radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy.

  1. In the first stage, radiation treatment is usually chosen. In addition, they can perform a surgical intervention, remove the tumor and then conduct a course of radiation therapy.
  2. In the second stage, a combination of radiation and surgical methods is chosen. First, the cancer is removed, and then lymphatic vessels and nodes are irradiated.
  3. In the third stage, the treatment is approximately the same: the tumor is removed and the lymphatic drainage paths are irradiated.
  4. At the fourth stage, chemotherapy is used, since surgical and radiation treatments are no longer effective. In addition, they are engaged in palliative therapy: they relieve pain and maintain the patient’s quality of life.

How much live with throat cancer (forecast)

Survival in throat cancer depends on the type of tumor and the stage at which it was noticed and started treatment.

The most favorable prognosis for cancer of the middle part of the larynx, detected at stage 1. Here, the five-year patient survival rate is more than 80%. As for tumors of other localizations and stages, the numbers are respectively lower.

There is no definitive answer to the question of how much they live in case of cancer of the throat 4 degrees. Survival depends on the type of tumor, as well as the treatment that the patient can afford.

Throat cancer (larynx) is a difficult diagnosis, both for the patient and for his relatives, but this is not a sentence. Determining the disease in the early stages and appropriate treatment allows you to cope with this problem. To do this, do not neglect the planned inspections of a specialist and, if possible, eliminate the risk factors for this disease.


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