Department of Otolaryngology

Laryngeal Cancer

Understanding The Disorder

Laryngeal cancer is a malignant growth of the larynx. The larynx comprises of 3 parts, including the supraglottis (upper part of the larynx above the true vocal folds, including the epiglottis), the glottis (the true vocal folds ), and the subglottis (the lower part of the larynx between the true vocal folds and the trachea). Depending on the location and specific type of the malignant growth, the staging system and management are different. Smoking and alcohol consumptions are common risk factors for laryngeal cancer.


  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Noisy breathing (stridor)
  • Neck mass
  • Coughing up blood
  • Ear pain
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite


Patient History

A history of the duration and progression of the aforementioned symptoms as well as an assessment of risk factors for cancer is taken.

Flexible Laryngoscopy

Careful examination of the larynx is essential to identify any abnormal mass in the larynx. Head and neck examination is also important to rule out masses elsewhere in the head and neck region such as enlarged lymph nodes.

Other investigations

Biopsy is key to confirm the diagnosis of cancer and specifically what type of cancer this is in order to tailor treatment. Imaging such as CT scans of the neck and chest with intravenous contrast will be obtained as an initial investigation to rule our tumor spread elsewhere in the body.


Depending on the type and staging of the laryngeal cancer, treatment can include chemoradiation therapy, surgery or a combination of both. The decision of cancer treatment usually involves a multidisciplinary team including laryngologists, head and neck oncologists, radiologists, mediacal oncologists, dentists, and nutritionists.