Like most cancers, treatment for laryngeal cancer involves surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of treatments. The decision about what type of therapy to use is made according to how advanced the cancer is (i.e., the stage) and exactly where it is located.
Early-stage cancer of the larynx can often be treated with radiation alone. Radiotherapy is the preferred method whenever possible, because it usually doesn't affect the quality of the voice and side effects are most often temporary. The side effects to radiation can include:
- sensitive mouth and gums
- sores in the mouth
- dry mouth
- sore throat
- voice changes
- red, dry skin
- change in or loss of sense of taste or smell
Surgery can involve removing the whole larynx and surrounding tissues or just part of the larynx, depending on how far the cancer has spread.
With partial removal (laryngectomy), you will often be able to eat and breathe as you did before the surgery, after healing is complete. You will probably have a temporary tracheostomy while the throat repairs, but the stoma will be allowed to close up and breathing will return to normal. Your voice quality may change but you will be able to speak.
If you need to undergo a total laryngectomy where the voice box is completely removed, you will be left with a tracheostomy in order to breathe. This tracheostomy is permanent.
Finally, chemotherapy may be needed if the cancer has spread. Chemotherapy is also used to "sensitize" the area for radiation in cases of advanced tumours that are still thought to be treatable. Because chemotherapy circulates throughout the body, more of the body systems are affected by the treatment.
Side effects from chemotherapy include:
- nausea and vomiting
- possible hair loss
- mouth sores
- increased risk of infections
- damage to hearing
The five-year survival rate for laryngeal cancer that's detected early is 59% to 90%. Most recurrences of cancer happen within the first 2 or 3 years of treatment. Follow-up procedures usually involve monthly checkups for the first year and then every few months thereafter. Unfortunately, because the very same risk factors that might have caused the first tumour may also have caused other damage, the chances of a second tumour developing (often in the head, neck, or lung) can be as high as 25%.
Many risk factors for cancer of the larynx are known, the most common of these being smoking and heavy alcohol use. Many cases of cancer could be prevented by avoiding these known causes.
Other ways to reduce risk include:
- using respirators when in industrial areas with cancer-causing chemicals
- getting treatment for GERD
- eating a healthy and balanced diet
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Cancer-of-the-Larynx