Hoarseness is the main symptom of laryngeal cancer. That’s why hoarseness that lasts more than a week or two should never be ignored. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, a cough that produces blood in the spit, a sensation of a mass, or unexplained pain. A lump in the neck may be the first sign of trouble. Smokers should not hesitate to see a physician if they experience unexplained symptoms.
Diagnosis is straightforward. If a physician finds a suspicious lesion in the larynx during an examination, the lesion will be biopsied, which can usually be done in the office under topical anesthesia.
For these cancers, treatment may include surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy (medical therapy), each used alone or in combination with the others.
Caught early, vocal fold cancer may be curable without radical surgery, but if allowed to grow, it can be deadly. For cancer in the rest of the larynx, the chances of a cure depend on the size and extent of the lesion when it is discovered. If caught early, cancer of the larynx no longer automatically requires a laryngectomy (surgical removal of the larynx) for treatment.