Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal Cancer - Cancer Treatment

Laryngeal Cancer

 
Overview

Laryngeal cancer  is a dangerous, but curable disease caused by the forming of malignant cells inside the tissues of the larynx. Despite its’ high cure rate if discovered early, being diagnosed with cancer is, without any doubt, a tremendous burden to both the patient and people around him.

 Representing only 2-5% of all malignancies, laryngeal cancer is rare, but considering the fact that it takes around 200.000 lives annually worldwide, it surely is very dangerous and deadly. And that number is constantly increasing. 

The reason behind laryngeal’s cancer difficulty in handling is because of the impact it has on the body of the infected person. Patient’s everyday functioning is distorted due to the growing tumor’s attack on the airway that affects the muscles of the voice box. The result of this is sever coughing, chocking and the occurrence of speech problems.

Fortunately, medicine is constantly being explored and developed and, hopefully, one day it will go far enough to be able to prevent and cure the most dangerous diseases, including cancers, with a 100% guarantee.

 
Types of Laryngeal Cancer

There are 7 types of laryngeal cancer and the difference between them is in the location where the cancer develops.

The types of laryngeal cancer are :

  • Squamous cell carcinoma – It is the most common type and it develops in the flat, scale-like cells that line the throat.
  • Adenocarcinoma – The rare type of laryngeal cancer that develops in the glandular cells of the larynx that release mucus.
  • Lymphoepithelioma – This type of cancer is located in a lymph node and is characterized by prominent infiltration of lymphocytes in the area involved by tumor.
  • Spindle cell carcinoma – Cancer that develops in the skin or tissues that line or cover internal organs and that contains long spindle-shaped cells.
  • Verrucous carcinoma – The uncommon variant of squamous cell carcinoma located in head, neck or genitalia parts of a body.
  • Undifferentiated carcinoma – More malignant than a well differentiated cancer.
 
Causes of Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal cancer is caused by changes in the cells of the larynx. It is not clear why this happens. It is mutual for all cancers to begin in a cell’s DNA. DNA gives human’s cells different instructions, such as when to grow and reproduce. A change in DNA can cause an unnatural continuous growth and reproduction of cells that results in the creation of tumor. 

Causes of laryngeal cancer are : 

  • Alcohol and tobacco – Alcohol and tobacco contain chemicals that can damage the cells of the larynx.
  • Family history – People who have a parent, child or sibling diagnosed with laryngeal cancer have twice as more chances to develop the cancer themselves compared to someone without a family history.
  • Diet – Consuming too much red meat, processed food and fried food and a diet without fruits and vegetables might increase your chances of getting diagnosed with laryngeal cancer.
  • Human Papilloma Virus (PMV) infection – This group of viruses that affect the skin and moist membranes that line the body such as those in cervix, anus, mouth and throat can increase human’s chances to develop laryngeal cancer. HPV is often spread during sex, including oral sex.
  • Low immunity – HIV and AIDS weaken immunity and researches have shown that people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS or people taking drugs after organ transplant have an increased chance to be diagnosed with laryngeal cancer.
  • Exposure to harmful substances such as asbestos, coal or wood dust, paint or diesel fumes, nickel, sulphuric acid fumes, formaldehyde and isopropyl alcohol.
 
Symptoms of Laryngeal Cancer

Reacting to an appearance of laryngeal cancer can be most helpful when it comes to fighting this dangerous disease. In order to react as quick as possible, it is vital for a patient to recognize the signs of cancer.

Symptoms of laryngeal cancer are :

  • Hoarseness or change in voice – Even though people develop hoarseness in different circumstances, having it for more than 3 weeks could be an alarming sign of laryngeal cancer appearance.
  • Difficulty in swallowing – Having pain or a burning sensation when swallowing food and feeling that food is sticking can also be a good reason to visit the doctor.
  • Weight loss – This symptom is common for many cancers. It usually happens when laryngeal cancer is more advanced and it rarely is an only symptom. A person might eat less due to difficulties in swallowing. In case of losing 4 to 5 kg or more in short time while not dieting, a doctor should be visited.
  • Cough and shortness of breath – Being short of breath, struggling with the cough that won't go away or having noisy breathing are another possible symptoms of laryngeal cancer.
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Treatments for Laryngeal Cancer

Before choosing the treatment, it is highly advised for a patient to talk with his doctor about the cancer location, cancer stage, his overall health and his personal preferences. There 4 main treatments reserved for laryngeal cancer : 

             1) Radiation therapy - Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams from sources such as X-rays and protons to attack and kill cancer cells with radiation. If cancer is discovered early, radiation therapy may be the only thing a patient will need. For more advanced cancers, radiation can be used in a combination with surgery and chemotherapy or it can be used to reduce symptoms and make patient’s life more comfortable.

            2) Surgery - There are different surgeries and choosing the type of surgery depends on the location and stage of cancer. Surgeries carry a risk of bleeding, infections and difficulties in speaking or swallowing.

               Surgery for early-staged throat cancer in which doctor use endoscope to surgically treat laryngeal cancer confined to the surface of the throat or the vocal cords.

               Surgery to remove all or the part of the voice box (laryngectomy) is conducted in the case of more developed tumor. If the tumor is small, doctor may remove only a part of your infected voice box and leave as much of it as possible. In worse conditions, patient’s whole voice box must be removed and he can either work with a speech pathologist or he can learn to speak without the voice box.

               Surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes (neck dissection) is conducted if cancer has spread deep within the patient’s neck. In that case, some or all of the lymph nodes are removed and scanned for cancer cells.

           3) Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is often used along with radiation because of it contains drugs that make cancer cells more sensitive to radiation. However, the defect of this process is the increase of side effects. It is advised for a patient to talk to his doctor and discover if this treatment will bring more good or bad.

           4) Targeted drug therapy - Targeted drug therapy treat laryngeal cancer by gaining the advantage of defects in cancer cells that fuel the cell’s future growth. One of the drugs approved for treating cancer is Cetuximab.

Other targeted drugs are being studied in clinical trials. Targeted drug therapy can also be used together with chemotherapy or radiation.

             
 Benefits of the Treatments

The beneficial side of treatments for laryngeal cancer is very important to mention. The main benefit is a very high “survival rate” for the patients. If discovered in its’ early stage, there are 80-95% chance that the cancer will be cured under the influence of treatments. Even in its’ advanced stage, treatments are still very useful and can help in defeating infected cells. Also, every treatment is followed by the well-organized recovery program in which the patient’s state is being carefully observed and analyzed for further actions.


Costs of the Treatments
 

Prices of treatment are different in different areas in the world. In US, the average cost of chemotherapy is around $30,000, while the price in Germany can be from $8,700 to $20,500. However, travelling abroad can be very helpful, because the prices in India go from $667 to $6000. In Thailand, an average monthly cost run from $1000. 

Radiation therapy costs between $10,000 and $50,000 in the US. It is possible to find radiation therapy in Germany for between $1000 and $20.500. India, on the other hand, has highly affordable prices that vary from $2,100 and $11,500. 

 
Who Does the Therapies?

 A doctor performing therapies for cancer is called oncologist. Before choosing a clinic or a doctor, the patient must carefully and wisely analyze the different factors. It is very important to choose the reliable institution and a great educated oncologist with huge experience and newest and safest methods and equipment. It is also very important to see the reviews of the selected clinic or oncologist and explore other patient’s experiences.  

 
 

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