Tumors of larynx can be benign or malignant. There are slight differences between the two types of benign tumor – papilloma (which usually has a few) and polyps (usually only one). Both can be removed without any lasting consequences, they appear to be caused by wrong (perhaps excessive) use of the vocal cords. Malignant tumors (cancers) occur mostly in heavy smokers, and very rarely in non-smokers.
Symptoms of Laryngeal Tumors
Hoarseness is usually the sole symptom. There are no symptoms similar to flu symptoms as with laryngitis. If the tumor is malignant, metastatic cancer may eventually make it difficult to breathe, and a growing bump can appear on the neck. With tumors in the larynx of the child, due to narrow airway through the larynx, a high, squeaky tone can be heard in the child’s voice.
Hoarseness due to benign tumor is usually temporary, but the hoarseness due to cancer is ongoing and it gradually worsens. Because cancer is not painful and develops slowly, initially the patient almost would not notice it.
Dangers of laryngeal tumor
The main danger lies in the fact that you can ignore the hoarseness that can slowly worsen until it gets too late for successful treatment of laryngeal cancer, which is almost always curable if diagnosed at an early stage. If not detected on time, it can be expanded locally or enter the blood circulation and create a secondary cancers (metastases) elsewhere in the body.
What to do if you notice symptoms of laryngeal tumor?
Do not ignore unexplained voice changes. If you are hoarse for more than a week or hoarseness periodically returns, please consult your doctor. If the throat has signs of inflammation that accompanies laryngitis, the doctor will probably refer you to a specialist who will examine your throat with a special mirror. If you notice swelling or any abnormalities, the specialist will probably perform endoscopic examination with biopsy to determine whether you have the malignant tumor or not.
Laryngeal Tumors Treatment
Benign tumors whether they are papillomas or polyps are usually removed by a minor surgery under local anesthesia. Malignant tumors, if detected at an early stage, generally are treated – in most cases successfully – with radiotherapy. If the cancer is advanced, the larynx will be removed surgically. Even then there is a 50% chance to heal. To be able to speak again, you’ll need to do, maybe a few months, with a specialist that will teach you how to use the esophagus as a substitute for the larynx. Alternative, recently discovered method consists of an operation which creates a wing valve between the esophagus and trachea. Valve allows the air escaping from the lungs through the valve, the esophagus, where up to create a voice vote. This is to avoid inhalation of the stomach and “exhale” from the stomach to create speech.