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Laryngeal cancer


Cancer of the larynx is part of the category of cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract that share a number of common characteristics. These affect more particularly men over the age of 50 because they are favored by the consumption of alcohol and tobacco. In regards to the larynx, cancer can be located in different places: it can affect primarily the epiglottis, vocal cords or the mucous membrane, the inner wall of the larynx.


The main Symptoms of laryngeal cancer are:
- dysphonia, or a change of voice or difficulty speaking, progressive and lasting in appearance;
- a feeling of discomfort in the throat;
- laryngeal pain;
- difficulty eating and swallowing, called dysphagia;
- rarely, difficulty breathing at an advanced stage;
- occasionally, an ear pain.
These signs are fickle, and dysphonia is the most suggestive sign, also accompanied by fatigue and loss of weight and appetite.


The diagnosis of laryngeal cancer is based on the examination of the larynx using a nasofibroscope which allows a direct visualization of the larynx and the possible discovery of a lesion. A sample called a biopsy will also be taken and analyzed. Usually, a test called a panendoscopy - performed under general anesthesia - can be used to study the upper aerodigestive tract as a whole, which is useful due to the frequency of several cancers in the context of alcohol and smoking. If the cancerous nature is confirmed, a staging will take place, so as to locate the presence of cancer cells that may have migrated to other organs.


The treatment of laryngeal cancer depends, as with many cancers, on its evolutionary stage. Classically, it is comprised of chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor, followed by the removal of the cancerous area with surgery. In parallel, radiotherapy may be used.


The main element to avoid developing cancer of the larynx and by extension other head and neck cancers is to stop alcohol and tobacco use. It is also recommended to protect oneself - namely by wearing a mask - against the carcinogenic chemicals that can be inhaled.

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