(Cancer of the Larynx; Cancer of the Voicebox )
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Laryngeal cancer is the growth of cancer cells in the larynx. The larynx is also known as the voicebox. It is a tube-shaped organ between the throat and the windpipe. It produces sound for speaking.
Cancer happens when cells divide without control or order. These cells grow together to form a tumor. They can invade and damage nearby tissues. They can also spread to other parts of the body.
It is not clear what causes changes in the cells. It is likely a combination of genes and environment.
Laryngeal cancer is more common in men, and people over 55 years old. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Laryngeal cancer may cause:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
A sample of tissue may be taken and tested with a biopsy.
The larynx and other structures are checked with imaging. This may include:
Biopsy will confirm the diagnosis. The exam and test results will be used for staging. This will outline how far and fast the cancer has spread.
The goal is to remove the cancer. Treatment depends on the stage, size, and site of the cancer. A combination of treatments may be used. Options may include:
The risk of laryngeal cancer may be reduced by:
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
BC Cancer Agency
Canadian Cancer Society
Head and neck cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/head-and-neck-cancer Accessed March 18, 2021.
Laryngeal cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Accessed March 18, 2021.
Laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/laryngeal-and-hypopharyngeal-cancer.html. Accessed March 18, 2021.
Obid R, Redlich M, et al. The treatment of laryngeal cancer. Oral Maxillofac Surg Clin North Am. 2019;31(1):1-11
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP