Laryngeal carcinoma is a malignant epithelial renewal of cells originating from the throat (larynx). Laryngeal cancer is one of the most common tumours in the head and neck area. Men are mainly affected after the age of 60, and ten times more frequently than women. It is noteworthy that in recent years – as well as lung cancer – the percentage of female patients with laryngeal carcinoma has clearly increased.
The most important risk factors for the development of this tumour are a long-standing and high intake of nicotine and alcohol. Other causes can be viruses and environmental toxins such as asbestos. A genetic predisposition may also lead to the disease.
Patients complain of hoarseness, swallowing difficulties, foreign body sensation, cough (also with an admixture of blood) and pain. In advanced stages, enlarged lymph nodes may be felt in the neck.
Where laryngeal cancer is suspected, a laryngoscopy (an endoscope is fed into the throat), a computer and a magnetic resonance tomography, or if necessary a lymph node biopsy, should be performed for further diagnosis.
The larynx is often surgically completely or partially removed. The removal of the entire larynx (laryngectomy) has significant consequences for the patient: In addition to the loss of voice due to the separation of the respiratory and digestive pathways, rigidities of the nasal mucosa occur, causing problems with smelling.