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Laryngeal Cancer: Introduction

The larynx is located in the neck just below the pharynx (throat). The larynx, also known as the voice box, holds the vocal cords. The motion of air against the vocal cords causes vibrations which form sounds that echo through the pharynx, mouth, and nose. These vibrations of sound make a person's voice.

There are three main parts of the larynx: the supraglottis, the glottis, and the subglottis. The supraglottis is above the vocal cords in the upper part of the larynx and includes the epiglottis. The glottis is the central part of the larynx where the vocal cords are located. The subglottis is located in the lower part of the larynx between the vocal cords and the trachea or windpipe. Most laryngeal cancers form in the flat, thin cells that are part of the interior lining of the larynx. These cells are called squamous cells.

A patient's risk of developing laryngeal cancer increases with the use of tobacco products and alcohol consumption. Some symptoms of laryngeal cancer may include:

  • persistent sore throat and/or coughing
  • pain swallowing
  • presence of a lump in the neck or throat
  • pain in the ear
  • change in voice or development of a hoarse voice

If a patient experiences any of these symptoms, it is important to contact a doctor.