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Home » Understanding Vocal Cord Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Understanding Vocal Cord Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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The six most prevalent signs of vocal cord cancer may be used to diagnose the condition.

Given that the larynx aids in speaking, breathing, and swallowing, cancer of the vocal cords or larynx is categorised as a kind of head and neck cancer, and its treatment is crucial and difficult.

A disease of the throat or voice box, cancer of the vocal cords or cancer of the larynx develops when malignant cells start to spread uncontrolled. It is categorised as a kind of head and neck cancer. As the cells grow, they start to assault the body and cause harm. These carcinogenic (malignant) cells begin in the larynx in laryngeal cancer (voice box). Vocal cord cancer symptoms include hoarseness, a scratchy throat, or a persistent cough. Laryngectomy surgery, which removes all or part of the larynx, may be used as a kind of treatment.

Understanding Vocal Cord Cancer

Describe the larynx.

The vocal cords and the larynx are both components of the throat, sometimes referred to as the voice box. The larynx’s role in a person’s ability to talk, breathe, and swallow is crucial. The voice cords open to allow air in as we breathe. They contract during speaking, and when air moves through the vocal cords, they vibrate, contributing to the production of speech sounds.

The cartilage, a flexible tissue that creates a supporting structure and has three components, makes up the majority of the larynx.

More than one in three cases of laryngeal cancer (35%) begin in the supraglottis.

Glottis: The area where the voice cords are situated is where more than half (60 percent) of laryngeal malignancies begin.

Subglottis (lower part): One in twenty instances, or around 5%, of laryngeal malignancies start here.

What are the causes of vocal cord cancer risk factors?

The chance of acquiring laryngeal cancer is greatly increased by smoking or using other tobacco products. Large alcohol intake also raises the risk, and the danger is heightened when alcohol and cigarettes are combined. The following are additional risk factors for vocal cord cancer:

Age – People over 55 are more likely to get laryngeal cancer.

Men are more likely to have this disease than women, presumably because men are more prone to smoke and drink heavily.

History of head and neck cancer: About one in four (25%) individuals who have previously battled the disease will do so again.

Workplace – Individuals who are exposed to certain drugs at work run a higher risk. These include wood dust, nickel, asbestos, sulfuric acid mist, and industrial mustard gas. Additionally more vulnerable are those who use technology for employment.

What signs of vocal cord cancer are there?

Laryngeal cancer’s root cause is unknown to science. However, your risk of acquiring laryngeal cancer is significantly increased if you use cigarettes or alcohol. The sexually transmitted illness known as the HPV virus, in certain cases, may potentially lead to laryngeal cancer. Regarding the symptoms, it is simple to mistake them for those of other illnesses. However, if you have these signs, see your physician for a precise diagnosis:

  • Cough or sore throat that won’t go away
  • Changes to the voice, such as hoarseness, that persist after two weeks
  • Discomfort or other swallowing issues
  • A bulge in the throat or neck
  • Dysphonia, issues with voice production
  • There is ear pain.

Also, if you have any of the following symptoms, visit a doctor right away:

  • Breathing difficulties (dyspnea)
  • Stridor is a loud, high-pitched breathing pattern.
  • Sense of something being caught in your throat or a globus
  • Exhaling blood (haemoptysis).

How is laryngopharyngeal cancer identified?

The doctor initially asks about the patient’s symptoms and medical background before doing a physical exam and checking the throat and neck. To confirm the diagnosis after the first examination, more testing will probably be required. Additional diagnostic exams include:

Scan – The body is shown in great detail using a CT or MRI scan. If the cancer has progressed to the lungs, a chest X-ray might reveal this.
Laryngoscopy: The larynx is inspected by the physician using an endoscope, a tiny, illuminated tube.

PET scan: A tiny, harmless dosage of a radioactive material is injected into a vein during a PET scan. The chemical emphasises aberrant locations, and the energy it generates is used by the PET scanner to produce 3D pictures.

Biopsy – A little piece of any aberrant tissue in the larynx is removed by the doctor during a biopsy in order to be examined under a microscope.
Identifying the cancer’s stage is a step in the diagnosing process. The medical staff will determine the extent of the illness, the size of the tumour, and if and where it has spread throughout the body. Laryngeal cancer may sometimes spread to the thyroid, oesophagus, tongue, lungs, liver, and bones. The laryngeal cancer stages are:

Early laryngeal cancer: The tumour is modest in stages 0, 1, and 2. Beyond the larynx, the cancer has not spread.

Laryngeal carcinoma that has progressed to stages 3 and 4 It has infected the lymph nodes, the voice cords, or other bodily regio

How is cancer of the vocal cords treated?

  • The care team for laryngeal cancer often includes of senior physicians from many specialties:
  • Tumor surgery is provided by head and neck surgeons.
  • Cancer is treated with radiation treatment by radiation oncologists.
  • To treat cancer, medical oncologists employ medications like chemotherapy.
  • Ear, nose, and throat doctors, or otorhinolaryngologists, treat illnesses of the head and neck.
  • Dentists and oral surgeons provide treatments including x-rays and therapy for mouth cancer.
  • Speech-language pathologists diagnose and treat abnormalities of the voice, cognition, swallowing, and speech.

According to their health, condition, disease, or injury, registered dietitians assist clients in choosing the right nutrition.

Social workers may answer questions and provide patients’ relatives and other stakeholders information. Additionally, they provide counselling, recommendations for regional and national services, and details on support groups.

During cancer therapy, primary care professionals often supervise routine medical care.

Various techniques are used to treat laryngeal cancer, including:

Oncologists utilise high-energy beams during radiation treatment to eradicate cancer. Radiation only affects the tumour, causing as little harm as possible to the healthy tissue around it.

Chemotherapy: Medical oncologists administer medications to cancer cells to stop their growth or kill them. Chemotherapy is often administered intravenously, and it might have negative side effects.

Immunotherapy: This therapy helps the body’s immune system, which acts as a patient’s natural defence, battle cancer. Biological treatment is another name for immunotherapy.

Early laryngeal cancer may be treated surgically by removing the tumour while leaving the larynx intact (and the ability to speak and swallow). Surgeons often need to conduct a laryngectomy, which involves removing the whole larynx, for severe malignancy.

What kind of surgical techniques are utilised to eliminate vocal cord cancer?

Cancer is removed surgically. Surgery for laryngeal cancer aims to remove the tumour while keeping the speech organ in working order. In more extreme situations, the whole larynx may need to be removed. Surgical techniques include:

  • Cordectomy: The voice cords are partially or completely removed, often via the mouth.
  • Supraglottic laryngectomy: The supraglottis is removed, either via the mouth or the neck.
  • Hemilaryngectomy: preserves voice by removing half of the larynx.
  • To maintain the capacity to speak, a partial laryngectomy removes just a portion of the larynx.
  • Complete laryngectomy: removal of the larynx via the neck
  • Thyroidectomy: Removal of the whole or portion of the thyroid gland
  • Laser surgery: Uses a laser beam to remove the tumour without using any blood.

What follows therapy for laryngeal cancer?

The patient visits the doctor for checkups after therapy to track their progress toward recovery. The prognosis, or chance of survival, varies from person to person, based on elements such the cancer’s stage, age, and overall health. In general, early-stage laryngeal cancer has a higher chance of being cured, but more advanced cancer that has spread to other organs has a lower chance of surviving.

However, even advanced laryngeal cancer is curable. If it recurs, it often does so during the first two to three years after therapy. A very tiny chance of the cancer coming back exists after five years.

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