What causes laryngeal cancer?
The following is from the U.S. National Cancer Institute's Site:
What is cancer of the hypopharynx?Cancer of the hypopharynx is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the tissues of the hypopharynx. The hypopharynx is the bottom part of the throat (also called the pharynx). The pharynx is a hollow tube about 5 inches long that starts behind the nose and goes down to the neck to become part of the esophagus, the tube that goes to the stomach. Air and food pass through the pharynx on the way to the windpipe (trachea) or the esophagus.
Cancer of the hypopharynx most commonly starts in the cells that line the hypopharynx, called squamous cells. (Refer to the PDQ summaries on Adult Non- Hodgkin's Lymphoma Treatment and Childhood Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Treatment for more information on cancer that started in the lymph cells of the hypopharynx.)
A doctor should be seen if a person has a sore throat that does not go away, trouble swallowing, a lump in the neck, a change in voice, or ear pain.
If there are symptoms, a doctor will examine the throat using a mirror and lights. A thin lighted tube called an endoscope may be put down the throat so the doctor can see if there is tissue that is not normal. The doctor will also feel the throat for lumps. If tissue that is not normal is found, the doctor will need to cut out a small piece and look at it under the microscope to see if there are any cancer cells. This is called a biopsy.
The chance of recovery (prognosis) depends on where the cancer is in the throat, whether the cancer is just in the throat or has spread to other tissues (the stage), and the patient's general state of health.
Stages of cancer of the hypopharynxOnce cancer of the hypopharynx is found, more tests will be done to find out if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. This is called staging. A doctor needs to know the stage of the disease to plan treatment. The following stages are used for cancer of the hypopharynx:
Stage IThe cancer is in only one part of the hypopharynx and has not spread to lymph nodes in the area (lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures that are found throughout the body; they produce and store infection-fighting cells).
Stage IIThe cancer is in more than one part of the hypopharynx or has spread to tissue next to the hypopharynx, but has not grown into the voice box (larynx). The cancer has not spread to lymph nodes in the area.
Stage IIIEither of the following may be true:
- The cancer is in more than one part of the hypopharynx or has spread to tissue next to the hypopharynx. The cancer has grown into the larynx.
- The cancer is in the hypopharynx or has spread to the tissue around the hypopharynx. The cancer has spread to only one lymph node on the same side of the neck as the cancer. The lymph node that contains cancer measures no more than 3 centimeters (just over one inch).
Stage IVAny of the following may be true:
- The cancer has spread to the connecting tissue or soft tissues of the neck. The lymph nodes in the area may or may not contain cancer.
- The cancer is in the hypopharynx or has spread to the tissues around the hypopharynx. The cancer has spread to more than one lymph node on the same side of the neck as the cancer, to lymph nodes on one or both sides of the neck, or to any lymph node that measures more than 6 centimeters (over 2 inches).
- The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.