What Is Larynx Cancer?
Most cases of larynx cancer originate in the thin, flat cells (squamous cells) lining the larynx and hypopharynx. The hypopharynx is the part of the throat situated immediately behind the mouth and nasal cavity and above the esophagus, larynx, and trachea. It is part of the pharynx, which is part of the digestive system and the respiratory system. It also plays an important role in vocalization.
Squamous cell cancer forms gradually. Smoking and heavy drinking usually cause cells to change and become pre-cancers. Most pre-cancers do not become cancer. If the causes, such as smoking, stop, the pre-cancers usually go away.
Some pre-cancers do grow into cancer. The earliest form of cancer is called carcinoma in situ (CIS). This is when only the cells of the lining are affected. "In situ" is a Latin term meaning "in place." CIS has not yet spread into lower layers of your cells or spread to other parts of your body.
Some of these very early cancers go away on their own. Most can be cured by stripping or cutting away the cells or by destroying them with a laser beam. If CIS is not treated, it can develop into cancer and spread into nearby tissue and other parts of your body.
Other types of cancer of the larynx and hypopharynx include:
- Adenoid cystic carcinoma
- Mucoepidermoid carcinoma
- Synovial sarcomas
These cancers are very rare. The most common risk factors for these as well as all other laryngeal cancers are tobacco and alcohol use, especially in combination.
We can help
The Mount Sinai Health System has extensive experience treating diseases of the larynx, including larynx cancer. U.S. News & World Report ranks The Mount Sinai Health System among the top 20 hospitals in the United States for the treatment of ear, nose, and throat disease. Please call us at 212-241-9410 to schedule an appointment. We are conveniently located on the Upper East Side of New York City.