Voicebox cancer

Cancer of the voicebox (larynx) typically occurs in patients who are smokers. High alcohol intake can be a contributory factor too.

Patients typically present with a change in their voice or sometimes with difficulty in breathing due to a degree of airway obstruction. The voicebox is visualised using nasendoscopy, a fibreoptic telescope passed through the nose to visualise the larynx.This assesment is important as it can help stage the disease and assess options for treatment.

If it is likely that this is an laryngeal cancer investigations are undertaken in the form of a CT scan of the neck and chest and a biopsy under general anaesthetic referred to as a microlaryngoscopy and biopsy.

Once the biopsy is confirmatory then every patient should be discussed in a multidisciplinary team meeting and a decision on the best treatment options can be considered.

Broadly speaking patients fall into a number of categories

Palliative which is aimed at symptom control

Curative which is done with the intention of cure but is never a guarantee. Options in this group include radiotherapy, laser surgery and laryngectomy.