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Cancerous vocal box

Dr. Shalini Kapoor Kad
May 26, 2010

A homoeopathic paediatrician, a counselling expert and a freelance writer are a few words to describe my profession. My sole aim is to put forth practical piece of information that guides every one right in the direction, blending the medicos to a layman with a simple gesture to make the medical things a little less convoluted and comprehendible.


Voice box better known as larynx is a common encounter for cancerous growths particularly to those addicted to smoking or alcohol. Larynx functions to produce sound along with the adjoining vocal cords and also protects the airways during swallowing i.e. restricting the entry of any food particles into the respiratory system while eating. Its function is vital and no chances of any ignorance.  They close tightly when a person eats and after the process open voluntarily to allow breathing with no interference what so ever.

As evident from its position, the larynx comes in direct contact so its cancerous changes with heavy alcohol, tobacco chewing and smoking becomes obvious. These addictions change the physiology and turn them a pre cancerous state; which when pondered timely can be faded off. Simply a pre cancerous stage of larynx can be voided off and returned to normal with a strict follow up of no smoke and alcohol.

Apart from these addictions the people who are in chronic exposure to harmful chemicals too become susceptible to the above.

How to diagnose?

Many varieties of cancer of the larynx are easier to detect early especially because of the voice change or hoarseness i.e. instantly noticed by the patient and the nearby family. But also there are certain varieties that may arise on the lower aspect and may surface at later stages only. The following are a few symptoms which should be brainstormed with a physician to make sure of healthy vocals:-

  • Sore throat that may be persistent for months together and doesn’t go on any attempt
  • Constant coughing
  • Pain or difficulty during swallowing
  • The patient may sometimes show chronic ear pain.
  • Weight loss is marked
  • Hoarseness of more than 2 weeks of existence should not be sidelined
  • Sensation of a lump / mass in the neck

A detailed history is then followed up by physical examination to further investigate and unfold the hidden. Head and neck examination should be done in case of any suspicion the larynx i.e. deep and is not that easy to ponder so a doctor generally examines with the help of mirrors and a flexible fibre optic to have a direct view of the mishaps occurring inside. Next step is a more convoluted one requiring examining a patient under general anaesthesia and better known as pan endoscopy. Here a biopsy is also done to study the underlying pathology.

After the detection also one requires to undergo procedures to detect on other tissue involvement often cancerous cells migrate and invade other tissues as well. In the above case only laryngeal treatment won’t work and other regions need to be treated simultaneously.

How to treat?

Just like any other cancer here there will be three types of modus operandi including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The treatment lies to scrap off the abnormal growth completely to an extent where reversal becomes minimal. Sometimes in case of old age or extensive involvement surgery is not suggested with just palliative treatments to relieve the existing symptoms and ease off daily routine difficulties.   

The variety can be controlled with a vigilant attitude and no to substance abuse, but it entirely lies at the hand of the person to choose life or temporary euphoria.

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