Treatment for laryngeal (larynx) cancer
For most people, the aim of treatment is to remove or destroy the cancer and to reduce the chances of it coming back.
Your treatment will depend on:
- where in the larynx the cancer is
- the size of the cancer and whether it has spread (its stage)
- how fast-growing the cancer is (its grade)
- your general health.
The main treatments for cancer of the larynx are:
Treatment may affect your speech, swallowing, eating and appearance. How much your treatment affects these areas is different for everyone.
Your doctor or nurse will talk to you about this. They will explain if this is likely to be short-term or long-term, and how they can support you.
We understand that having treatment can be a difficult time for people. We're here to support you. If you want to talk, you can:
Early stage cancers of the larynx that have not spread to nearby tissue or lymph nodes can usually be cured with radiotherapy or surgery. Your doctor will explain if these treatments are suitable for you.
Treatment might include:
- surgery using a laser to remove the cancer through your mouth – this is called transoral laser microsurgery or TLM
- surgery (non-laser)
If a cancer of the larynx is bigger or has spread to lymph nodes in the neck, you may need more than 1 type of treatment. These treatments may be able to cure the cancer.
Treatments for locally advanced cancer may include the following:
A neck dissection
Chemoradiation or radiotherapy after surgery
Targeted therapy combined with radiotherapy
If the cancer has come back, or is very advanced when you are diagnosed, you may have treatments to try and control the cancer and help with symptoms. These treatments may include:
Some people may need surgery such as a tracheostomy to help with symptoms.
Sometimes, it may not be possible to cure the cancer. The aim of treatment may be to control the cancer for longer and manage the symptoms. This is called supportive or palliative care. You may see a specialist palliative care doctor or nurse for expert help with your symptoms.
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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