Laryngeal cancer

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Non-cancerous conditions of the larynx

A non-cancerous (benign) condition of the larynx is a change to laryngeal cells, but it is not cancer. Non-cancerous conditions do not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body and are not usually life-threatening.

Non-cancerous conditions of the larynx include:

  • laryngitis
  • vocal cord nodules
  • contact granulomas
  • vocal cord cysts
  • vocal cord polyps
  • laryngeal papillomatosis

Risk factors

The following risk factors increase your chance of developing a non-cancerous condition of the larynx:

  • smoking
  • overuse or misuse of the voice (such as excessive speaking or singing, speaking in an improper pitch or constant shouting)
  • acid reflux
  • postnasal drip
  • inhaling irritants
  • constant coughing

HPV infection increases the risk for laryngeal papillomatosis.

Symptoms

The symptoms of non-cancerous conditions of the larynx include:

  • hoarseness
  • a weak or breathy voice
  • trouble breathing
  • noisy breathing
  • pain when swallowing or speaking

Diagnosis

If you have symptoms or your doctor thinks you might have a non-cancerous condition, you will be sent for tests. Tests used to diagnose or rule out non-cancerous conditions or laryngeal cancer include:

  • a physical exam
  • a laryngoscopy
  • a biopsy

Find out more about physical exams, a laryngoscopy and biopsies.

Treatments

Treatment options for non-cancerous conditions of the larynx include:

  • avoiding the cause such as smoking, loud speaking or improper singing
  • voice therapy
  • medicines to reduce acid reflux
  • surgical removal

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