Cancer is a term used for diseases where abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer is not just one disease, but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer.
Laryngeal cancer is one type of cancer. Review the FAQs below for more information about laryngeal cancer.
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What is laryngeal cancer?
The larynx (voice box) is located in the neck. It contains the vocal cords, which vibrate and make sound when air is directed against them. Laryngeal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the larynx. This cancer is a type of head and neck cancer. Most laryngeal cancers form in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells lining the inside of the larynx.
What are the risk factors of laryngeal cancer?
People with the below risk factors may be more likely than others to develop laryngeal cancer:
- Tobacco use. Smoking tobacco causes most laryngeal cancers. Heavy smokers who have smoked tobacco for a long time are most at risk for laryngeal cancer.
- Heavy drinking. People who are heavy drinkers are more likely to develop laryngeal cancer than people who don’t drink alcohol. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol that a person drinks. The risk of laryngeal cancer increases even more for people who are heavy drinkers and heavy smokers. However, not everyone who drinks or smokes heavily will develop the disease.
- Industrial exposures. Certain industrial exposures, including exposures to asbestos and synthetic fibers, have been associated with cancer of the larynx, but the increase in risk remains controversial. People working in certain jobs in the construction, metal, textile, ceramic, logging, and food industries may have an increased risk of cancer of the larynx.
How is laryngeal cancer related to the environment?
Studies have shown certain industrial exposures, including exposures to asbestos and synthetic fibers, have been associated with cancer of the larynx, but the increase in risk remains controversial. People working in certain jobs in the construction, metal, textile, ceramic, logging, and food industries may have an increased risk of cancer of the larynx.
Is laryngeal cancer preventable?
Not all cases of laryngeal cancer can be prevented, but the risk of developing these cancers can be greatly reduced by avoiding known risk factors such as smoking and alcohol use. Avoiding exposure to tobacco (by not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke) lowers the risk of this cancer. Heavy alcohol use greatly increases the cancer-causing effect of tobacco smoke, so it is especially important to avoid the combination of drinking and smoking.
When working with cancer-causing chemicals in the workplace, workers should have plenty of ventilation and use industrial respirators.