Hoarseness should not be underestimated because if it persists for about 3 weeks, this may be a symptom of laryngeal cancer. It is a cancer that often appears. Treatment depends on the stage of the disease and, in case of severe changes, the partial or complete removal of the larynx is necessary.
This type of cancer typically affects men between the ages of 45 and 70. It is one of the most common malignant tumors. The main reason for the development of laryngeal cancer is tobacco dependence. Cancer can grow in almost any part of the larynx. Most cases diagnosed affect the epiglottis.
How to recognize a larynx cancer?
A laryngeal cancer usually presents a precursor, which is associated with the occurrence of papillomas or lesions in the mucous membranes. During growth, cancer spreads over the surface more and more, destroying the tissue. Gradually, the laryngeal lumen is closed, which can impair breathing and consequently lead to asphyxia. Cancer cells in the region of the larynx progress very fast and attack even distant organs.
Diagnosis of larynx cancer
The basic investigation for the diagnosis of laryngeal cancer is an examination in the otorhinolaryngologist. During this examination, in addition to scanning the neck, laryngoscopy is also necessary. Laryngoscopy allows the evaluation of the character of the laryngeal changes and allows the obtaining of a sample for histopathological examination. An additional study is required to know the extent of the changes, such as X-ray examination, an ultrasound examination, as well as an MRI and computer tomography, which are performed interchangeably.
What should be considered
Unfortunately, the early symptoms of laryngeal cancer can be easily mistaken for a common infection. Among the most classic signs of cancer, the following stand out:
• Longer hoarseness
• Difficulty in swallowing and feeling of a foreign body in the throat
• Mucosal color change
• Large amount of saliva
• Unpleasant mouth odor
• Cough and dyspnoea
• Unilateral sore throat that may radiate to the ear
• Enlargement of lymph nodes
• Paleness, drowsiness and fatigue
Is surgery necessary
How to treat laryngeal cancer depends on severity. If the disease is in the first stage, the doctor chooses mainly a microsurgical procedure consisting of removing the alteration of the vocal cord or removing the whole vocal cord. However, in the case of advanced diseases, it is necessary to completely remove the larynx.
The most common method of surgery is an endoscopic laser corodomy through the mouth. In case of complete removal of the larynx, a tracheostomy is performed. This intervention consists of directing the mouth of the air tube forward of the neck. Radiation therapy is also used to treat laryngeal cancer.
There is hope for patients after removal of the larynx. Professor Maciejewski’s team at the Gliwice Oncology Center undertook an innovative reconstruction of this organ. The larynx was reconstructed using the rib cage, temporal lobe, and mucosa on the cheek. The entire process consisted of two phases. The first phase was removal of the larynx and lymph nodes, which were attacked by cancer. Next, the coronary cartilage is used as the structure for the new larynx; then a piece of the temporal lobe is used to cover the rebuilt organ; the mucous membrane is used to the interior of the larynx. The operation – besides being a surgery that saves lives – also allows to maintain the quality of life.
Prevention of laryngeal cancer
When talking about laryngeal cancer, one should also know that its development is caused by the following factors:
• Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
• Repeated laryngeal inflammation
• Work in adverse conditions such as heavy metal loading
• Vitamin deficiencies, especially vitamin A
• Working with your voice
• Viral infection associated with the development of papillomas
• Mechanical damage to the larynx