Voice Box Cancer

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Voice box (laryngeal) cancer can affect things we take for granted, like sharing your voice. At UVA Health, you'll find a caring and highly skilled team to help restore your quality of life.

Treating Voice Box Cancer at UVA Health

At UVA Health, we have experts who specialize in treating cancers that happen in your head and neck. Our surgeons have developed the high level of skill needed to operate on this very tender part of your body. We aim to save as much as we can of your voice and throat. This is why our surgeons are highly trained in robotic-assisted surgery.

As with most cancers, we can use targeted medicines to help kill tumor cells. We have both standard and advanced chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

You might need surgery to remove cancer from your larynx. We might have to remove:

  • Some or all of your voice box
  • Lymph nodes from your throat area, if cancer has spread (neck dissection)

If we have to, we may have to perform a tracheotomy. This allows you to breathe and speak through your neck, if surgery damages your airways.

Learn more about our expertise in head and neck cancers.

What Are Signs of Voice Box Cancer?

Laryngeal cancer is when cancer cells grow in the larynx. The larynx is a tube-shaped organ inside the neck that lies between the throat and the windpipe. Its main function is to produce sound for speaking.

When these symptoms happen for a long time, you should see a doctor. Watch for continual:

  • Cough, hoarseness
  • Sore throat
  • Lump in the throat or neck
  • Problems swallowing
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Choking on food
  • Issues breathing
  • Noisy breathing
  • Ear pain
  • A feeling of ear fullness
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Bad breath
  • Coughing blood

Diagnosing Laryngeal Cancer

Get a diagnosis for your symptoms as soon as possible. The faster we find cancer, the better we can treat it.

At UVA Health, you can trust in our ability to find the source of your symptoms. We have the latest, high-tech tools, including:

  • Laryngoscopy
  • X-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

Risk & Prevention

The best way to avoid this type of cancer? Don't smoke. You can also lower your risk by: 

  • Drinking alcohol less
  • Avoiding toxic exposures, like wood dust, chemicals, asbestos

Having gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) or a weak immune system can increase your risk.