The larynx is also called the voicebox. It is in the neck, above the windpipe (trachea) and in front of the gullet (oesophagus).
The windpipe is the tube that carries air to and from the lungs. The gullet is the tube that food goes down when you eat.
The larynx is tube-shaped, and it is about 5cm or 2in long.
The larynx allows the air you breathe to reach your lungs. It has a flap of skin at the top, called the epiglottis. When you swallow, the epiglottis sends food and liquid down the gullet, stopping it from going into the windpipe.
The larynx contains the 2 vocal cords. The vocal cords vibrate together when air passes between them. This makes the sound of your voice.
The larynx is the lump you can see or feel at the front of the neck. This is known as the Adam’s apple.
The larynx has 3 main parts:
- supraglottis – which is the area above the vocal cords
- glottis – which is the middle area where the vocal cords are
- subglottis – which is the area below the vocal cords that connects to the windpipe.
Below is a sample of the sources used in our laryngeal cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
ESMO Annals of Oncology. Squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity, larynx, oropharynx and hypopharynx. EHNS-ESMO-ESTRO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow up. 2020. Available from www.esmo.org/guidelines/head-and-neck-cancers/squamous-cell-carcinoma-of-the-head-and-neck (accessed Jan 2022).
NICE Guideline NG36. Cancer of the upper aerodigestive tract: assessment and management in people aged 16 and over. 2018. Available from www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng36 (accessed Jan 2022).
NICE Technology Appraisal TA736. Nivolumab for treating recurrent of metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck after platinum-based chemotherapy. 2021. Available from www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ta736 (accessed Jan 2022).
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Claire Paterson, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.
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