Larynx (voice box) Cancer

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Laryngeal cancer is cancer of the larynx, part of the throat. Cancer happens when specific cells grow uncontrollably. As the cells multiply, they invade and damage the body. In laryngeal cancer, these cancerous (malignant) cells start in the larynx (voice box).

The larynx is in your throat. It’s also known as the voice box. The larynx helps us speak, breathe and swallow. Our vocal cords are part of the larynx.

The larynx is mostly made up of cartilage, a flexible tissue that makes a supportive framework. The larynx has three parts:

  • Supraglottis (upper part): More than one in three laryngeal cancers (35%) start here.
  • Glottis (middle part): More than half of laryngeal cancers (60%) start here, where the vocal cords are.
  • Subglottis (lower part): About 5% of laryngeal cancers — 1 in 20 — start here.


  • Sore throat or cough that doesn’t go away.
  • Voice change, such as hoarseness, that doesn’t improve after two weeks.
  • Pain or other difficulties when you swallow.
  • Lump in the neck or throat.
  • Dysphonia, trouble making voice sounds.
  • Ear pain.

If you have these symptoms, seek medical attention right away:

  • Trouble breathing (dyspnea).
  • Stridor, breathing that’s noisy and high-pitched.
  • Globus sensation, feeling that something’s in your throat.
  • Coughing up blood (hemoptysis).

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