What is Laryngeal Cancer?
Laryngeal cancer is cancer that starts in the cells of the larynx (voice box). The larynx contains vocal cords that vibrate and create sound (i.e. a person’s voice) as air passes over them. The larynx also contains the epiglottis, which is a structure that prevents food from entering the wind pipe.
There are three parts of the larynx:
- Supraglottis: The supraglottis is the top section of the larynx, above the vocal cords. The supraglottis includes the epiglottis, false vocal folds, ventricles, and other structures.
- Glottis: The glottis is the middle section of the larynx. The glottis consists of the vocal cords and the opening between them. The glottis is the most common site of laryngeal cancer.
- Subglottis: The subglottis is the bottom section of the larynx, below the vocal cords and above the wind pipe.
Most laryngeal tumors are squamous cell carcinomas that start in the glottis. Laryngeal tumors may have significant effects on the voice and swallowing function. These tumors are treated differently depending on the section of the larynx where it began.