Laryngeal cancer

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Cancerous tumours of the larynx

A cancerous tumour of the larynx can grow into and destroy nearby tissue. It can also spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. The most common type of laryngeal cancer is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). It accounts for 95% of all laryngeal cancers.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx starts in the flat, thin cells found in the epithelium or inner layer lining the larynx.

SCCs are classified based on the part of the larynx where the cancer starts:

  • Glottic carcinomas start in the area that contains the vocal cords.
  • Supraglottic carcinomas start in the area above the vocal cords.
  • Subglottic carcinomas start in the area below the vocal cords.

Rare laryngeal tumours

The following cancerous tumours of the larynx are rare.

Minor salivary gland tumours start in the cells of the minor salivary glands. They are tiny glands under the lining of some areas of the larynx. The types of tumours include adenocarcinoma, adenoid cystic carcinoma and mucoepidermoid carcinoma. Find out more about cancerous tumours of the salivary glands.

Sarcomas start in the cells of the connective tissue (cartilage). Types of sarcoma of the larynx include chondrosarcoma and synovial sarcoma. Find out more about types of soft tissue sarcoma.

Melanoma usually starts in the skin but can start on the inner mucous surfaces of the body including in the larynx. Find out more about melanoma.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma starts in lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell. Find out more about non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Extramedullary plasmacytoma is a type of multiple myeloma and starts in the plasma cells. Find out more about types of multiple myeloma.


Researcher Dr Michael Taylor Same brain tumour, different genetic profiles

Making progress in the cancer fight

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The 5-year cancer survival rate has increased from 25% in the 1940s to 60% today.

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