In larynx cancer (laryngeal carcinoma) malignant tumors have formed on the larynx. He is one of the most common neoplastic diseases of the neck in Germany and affects mainly men. Symptoms and therapy vary according to the location and type of the tumor. Read all about the causes, therapy and prognosis of throat cancer here.
Throat cancer: description
The term throat cancer refers to a malignant growth in the larynx. The larynx is an organ in the neck that separates the air and the esophagus and with the help of which the voice is produced. In technical language, the larynx is called the larynx; Laryngeal cancer is therefore also called laryngeal carcinoma or malignant laryngeal tumor.
Depending on which parts of the larynx cancer infested, a distinction is made between different types of tumors:
- Supraglottic carcinomas: above the vocal fold plane; over 30 percent of all cases of throat cancer.
- Glottic carcinomas: at the vocal fold level (vocal cord carcinoma); over 65 percent of all cases of throat cancer.
- Subglottic carcinomas: below the vocal fold plane; less than 1 percent of all cases of throat cancer.
As a malignant tumor, the laryngeal carcinoma penetrates into the surrounding healthy tissue (infiltration) and destroys it. In addition, laryngeal cancer can form metastases on other parts of the body, but only at an advanced stage.
Laryngeal cancer mainly affects men over the age of 50. Because smoking is the main cause of the disease and the proportion of smokers in Germany is rising, women are increasingly becoming ill with laryngeal cancer. It is estimated that there are approximately 3,500 new cases of male disease and 500 new cases of women each year.
Although throat cancer is one of the most common tumors in the neck, the number of deaths from this cancer is low. In men, throat cancer accounts for about 1.5 percent of all cancer deaths; in women only one percent.
Throat cancer: symptoms
Read all about the typical signs of laryngeal cancer in the article Laryngeal Cancer Symptoms.
Throat cancer: causes and risk factors
The biggest risk factors for a malignant laryngeal tumor are tobacco and alcohol consumption. Combined occurrence of both factors increases the risk even further. In contrast to other types of cancer, tobacco and alcohol consumption in throat cancer are not non-specific risk factors: They directly promote the development of degenerated cells in the neck of malignant cells! These altered (mutated) cells then continue to grow unimpeded and lead to laryngeal carcinoma.
Viruses can also contribute to the development of cancer of the larynx: In some patients, the genetic material of certain viruses was found in the altered cancer cells.
Another risk factor is pollutants such as asbestos, nickel, chromium, arsenic and benzopyrene.
Scientists also suspect that hereditary predisposition may favor the development of throat cancer.
Throat cancer: examinations and diagnosis
If laryngeal cancer is suspected, the larynx is first examined directly (laryngoscopy or laryngoscopy). In direct laryngoscopy, the doctor uses a spatula and a small lamp to examine the larynx and possible changes directly. Indirect laryngoscopy uses a mirror and a magnifying glass. The doctor can thereby assess the vocal folds, their motility, and the appearance of the other components of the larynx.
For a more detailed examination of the larynx, a microlaryngoscopy is performed. This takes place under anesthesia. The doctor may also take a tissue sample (biopsy) to examine in the laboratory. Only with this investigation can the clear diagnosis be made on laryngeal cancer.
In some cases, laryngeal cancer has swollen lymph nodes around the neck. The doctor can determine this by external scanning.
By imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the location and size of the laryngeal cancer can be determined. A blood test complements the diagnostics.
Throat cancer: treatment
Before each treatment, the tumor is examined under general anesthesia. Depending on the type, location and stage of laryngeal carcinoma, various treatment options may be considered: surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
A laryngeal carcinoma at an early stage can usually be completely removed with a partial removal of the larynx (partial laryngectomy). The operation is performed at a favorable location by using a strong laser through the mouth. In other cases, the larynx must be opened from the outside. A small cut is made on the neck. Affected persons definitely need an artificial respiratory opening (tracheostoma) after this type of surgery. This is located in the front of the neck. The affected person takes in air in their lungs. In some cases, the tracheostomy must last a lifetime.
If the cancer of the larynx is already at an advanced stage in the diagnosis, usually the entire larynx must be removed (laryngectomy). Thereafter, normal breathing is no longer possible because the air and esophagus are no longer separated. Therefore, after each complete laryngectomy a tracheostoma is created. In addition, those affected can no longer speak normally. As part of a speech therapy, they learn a new way of speaking using the esophagus. In addition, the affected people have artificial language assistance available.
If the cancer of the larynx has already spread to the cervical lymph nodes, they are also removed during surgery.
Radiation and chemotherapy are used in three cases:
- In patients with laryngeal cancer still at an early stage
- To reduce the risk of remaining cancer cells after surgery
- In patients who would be at risk of being anesthetized
Regular follow-up examinations should be performed during the five years following treatment. This way, a developing second carcinoma can be quickly detected and treated immediately.
Throat cancer: prevention
You can prevent laryngeal cancer by minimizing tobacco and alcohol consumption, or by abstaining completely from the stimulants.
If you frequently come into contact with hazardous substances such as asbestos or chrome, you should always wear a respirator. Care should be taken, especially during occupational exposure or when renovating old houses. Contact with such hazardous substances can Laryngeal cancer cause.
Throat cancer: disease course and prognosis
With regard to the success rate of therapy, as with other cancers, larynx cancer also applies: age and general condition play an important role here. The older the affected person is and the more concomitant diseases exist, the more difficult is the therapy as a rule.
In addition, the prognosis depends on the stage at which the cancer of the larynx was diagnosed. The sooner a laryngeal carcinoma is detected, the greater the chance of complete healing. In addition, in many cases, the larynx can be completely preserved.
The individual prognosis also depends on the type of tumor, the location of its occurrence and the response to the therapy. For example, the vocal cord carcinoma has good chances of recovery, as it is noticeable by early hoarseness and only relatively late daughter tumors (metastases) forms.
In general, five years after diagnosis, laryngeal cancer still accounts for about 60 percent of all patients (5-year survival). If throat cancer is not treated, it can lead to death!
Smoking increases the risk of relapse
Those who continue to smoke after a successful therapy expose themselves to a greatly increased risk of relapse. The mucous membranes on the larynx are already damaged after a disease has survived. They are thus more susceptible to the harmful substances of tobacco smoke, so that often develops again a throat cancer.