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Larynx (Voice Box) Cancer

  • What is Larynx (Voice Box) Cancer?

    Laryngeal cancer, or cancer of the larynx (voice box), usually refers to an abnormal growth of tissue in the larynx. This growth is called a tumour and develops when the cells in the larynx divide uncontrollably and produce extra tissue. Laryngeal cancer can occur on or above the vocal cords. This form of cancer is a common head and neck cancer in Singapore and is strongly linked to smoking.

    There are 3 types of laryngeal cancer:

    • Glottic cancer that affects the vocal cords
    • Supraglottic cancer that affects tissues above the vocal cords
    • Subglottic cancer that affects tissues below the vocal cords
  • Tobacco smoking and drinking too much alcohol are the main risk factors of laryngeal cancer.

    • A lump in the neck
    • Bloody nasal discharge
    • Difficult or painful swallowing
    • Earache
    • Voice changes or hoarseness
  • The treatment of laryngeal cancer depends on the part of the larynx where the cancer is located, the cancer stage, and overall general health. A team of specialist surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists (cancer specialists), pathologists (disease specialist) and radiologists (radiation specialists) will assess the condition and suggest a customised treatment plan to achieve the best outcome.

    • If the cancer is still in the early stages and hasn’t spread, either surgical removal of the tumour or radiation therapy will be suggested as treatment.
    • If the cancer has reached an advanced stage or has spread, surgical removal of the tumour is done, followed by combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
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