Laryngeal cancer

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Treatments for laryngeal cancer

If you have laryngeal cancer, your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer. When deciding which treatments to offer for laryngeal cancer, your healthcare team will consider:

  • the location of the tumour
  • the stage of the tumour
  • your general health
  • your age
  • what you prefer or want

You may be offered one or more of the following treatments for laryngeal cancer.

Radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy is a main treatment for laryngeal cancer. It is often given during the same time period as chemotherapy, called chemoradiation.

Surgery

Depending on the stage and size of the tumour, you may have one of the following types of surgery.

Endoscopic laser surgery treats early stage tumours and later stage tumours in some cases.

Cordectomy treats very small tumours of a vocal cord.

Laryngectomy removes part or all of the larynx.

Neck dissection removes lymph nodes in the neck. Sometimes other tissue including muscle, an accessory nerve and a vein are also removed.

Thyroidectomy removes part or all of the thyroid.

Tracheostomy helps you breathe after surgery. A tracheostomy tube may be temporary or permanent.

Feeding tube placement helps you get enough nutrition during treatment.

Reconstructive surgery helps restore the structure or function of areas affected by surgery.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is often given during the same time period as radiation therapy, called chemoradiation, as a main treatment for laryngeal cancer. It may also be given before chemoradiation or to relieve pain or control symptoms of advanced cancer.

Targeted therapy

A targeted therapy drug may be given with radiation therapy if you can’t cope well with chemoradiation. It is sometimes given in combination with chemotherapy drugs.

Immunotherapy

An immunotherapy drug may be given if the cancer comes back (recurs) or spreads and has stopped responding to chemotherapy with drugs such as cisplatin or carboplatin.

If you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment

You may want to consider a type of care to make you feel better without treating the cancer itself. This may be because the cancer treatments don’t work anymore, they’re not likely to improve your condition or they may cause side effects that are hard to cope with. There may also be other reasons why you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment.

Talk to your healthcare team. They can help you choose care and treatment for advanced cancer.

Follow-up care

Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. You will need to have regular follow-up visits, especially in the first 5 years after treatment has finished. These visits allow your healthcare team to monitor your progress and recovery from treatment.

Clinical trials

Some clinical trials in Canada are open to people with laryngeal cancer. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

Questions to ask about treatment

To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about treatment.

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