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Larynx (Voice Box) Cancer

  • What is Larynx (Voice Box) Cancer?

    Laryngeal cancer refers to cancer of the larynx or voice box. Laryngeal cancer is an abnormal growth of tissue in the larynx, called a tumour and develops when the cells in the larynx divide uncontrollably and produce extra tissue. Laryngeal cancer can occur on the vocal cords or above them. It is a common head and neck cancer in Singapore and it is strongly linked with smoking.

    There are 3 types of laryngeal cancer:

    • Glottic cancer that affects the vocal cords themselves
    • Supraglottic cancer that affects tissues above the vocal cords
    • Subglottic cancer that affects tissues below the vocal cords
  • Tobacco smoking and drinking a lot of alcohol are the main risk factors of laryngeal cancer.

    • A lump in the neck
    • Bloody nasal discharge
    • Difficulty or pain felt when swallowing
    • Earache
    • Voice changes or hoarseness
  • The treatment of laryngeal cancer depends on where the cancer is located, the cancer stage, and overall general health. A team of specialist surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists and radiologists will assess the patient's condition and suggest an individualised treatment plan to achieve the best outcome.

    • If the cancer is still in the primary (early) stages and hasn’t metastasised (spread), either surgical excision (removal) of the tumour or radiation therapy can be enough as treatment.
    • If the cancer has reached an advanced stage or has metastasised to other parts of the body, surgical resection (removal) of the tumour is done, followed by combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
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