Symptoms of Advanced Laryngeal Cancer
Early Detection is Critical for Tumor Control
The following symptoms indicate a need for prompt and thorough evaluation by a physician.
Most Common Symptoms
- swallowing or breathing difficulty
- ear pain
- unintended weight loss of greater than 10 pounds over six months in a smoker
- pain or difficulty swallowing
- noisy breathing
- voice changes (hoarseness) that persist for more than 1 month
In addition, a non-tender mass in the neck that persists for more than one or two months, particularly in someone over 40 years of age with a history of smoking, should be promptly evaluated.
Consideration of Tumor Control and Larynx Preservation
Since the larynx is involved in airway passage for breathing, voice production for speaking and singing, and protection of the airway during swallowing, preservation of the larynx is now incorporated into treatment plans for advanced cancers. Advancements in cancer detection, treatment and rehabilitation make this increasingly feasible.
Judicious Use of Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy usually can only be delivered once to the same area of the head and neck (such as the larynx). Judicious use of this treatment is required, especially because of the high rate of second primary tumors (5% per year) in head and neck cancer patients.
Key Role of Multidisciplinary Care and Advanced Cancer Patients
Evaluation and treatment at a center with a multidisciplinary approach to cancer therapy (including surgeons, radiation therapists, medical oncologists, speech/swallowing pathologists, and nutritionists) is crucial in maximizing the success of treatment.
Any and all airway problems require immediate attention.