ENT Head & Neck Surgery Center

Rm 02, 5/F., Kai Seng Commerical Centre,
4-6 Hankow Road, TST Kln, HK
(near Kowloon Hotel)
Tel: (852) 3100 0555
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Lawrence Chow / ENT Doctor

The Stages of Laryngeal Cancer and Their Treatment Options

Laryngeal cancer is a type of head and neck cancer that arises from the lining of the larynx. This part of the body includes the vocal cords, the esophagus, and the upper part of the windpipe. It can lead to serious complications if it’s not diagnosed early enough. Symptoms may include coughing up blood, feeling like one’s breathing passage might close off, hoarseness, pain in swallowing, voice changes, or trouble speaking. This article offers an overview on the stages of laryngeal cancer, its treatment options, and how to spot the first signs.


Stages of Laryngeal Cancer

Staging classifies a cancer based on how much cancer there is in the body and where it is when first diagnosed. Information from tests is used to find out the size of the tumour, which parts of the organ have cancer, whether the cancer has spread from where it first started and where the cancer has spread. Your ENT doctor uses the stage to plan treatment and estimate the outcome.

For laryngeal cancer, there are 5 stages – stage 0 followed by stages 1 to 4. The higher the stage number, the more the cancer has spread.

Some doctors may also use the following terms when discussing laryngeal cancer:

  • Stage 0: The cancer is only in the inner lining of the larynx.
  • Early stage: It includes stages 1 and 2.
  • Locally advanced: It means stage 3.
  • Advanced stage: It means stage 4.


Laryngeal cancer staging is very complicated since it is based on where the cancer starts in the larynx. There are unique descriptions for stages 1, 2 and 3 for cancer that starts above the vocal cords, in the vocal cords and below the vocal cords in the larynx. The stage 4 description is the same regardless of where the cancer started.


Treatment Options for Laryngeal Cancer

The different stages of the cancer correspond to the different areas that it has spread to. Treatment options can vary depending on where in the neck or head the cancer is (e.g., local treatment only, radiation and chemotherapy).


Local treatment of laryngeal cancer

When laryngeal cancer is diagnosed early, the most common treatment option is local treatment. For more advanced cancers, it may be necessary to remove the larynx and nearby lymph nodes. Surgery can also be done in stages: first removing the area where the tumor is located and then removing nearby lymph nodes that may contain cancer cells.


Radiation of laryngeal cancer

Radiation therapy is a technique that delivers high energy rays to tumors in order to decrease their size and limit damage to the surrounding tissue. The rays are controlled carefully so they don’t cause any damage to healthy cells or organs. The process usually requires many sessions over an extended period of time. Radiation therapy is often used in the later stages of the disease when it has metastasized, but it can also be used in early stages when there are few tumor cells present.


Chemotherapy of laryngeal cancer

Treatment of laryngeal cancer typically involves some form of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Surgery may be done to remove the cancerous cells, along with some surrounding tissue for safety. Chemotherapy is one way to destroy laryngeal cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body. Radiation therapy delivers high-energy rays directly into the tumor in order to kill any remaining cells.


In research, most cases of laryngeal cancer are diagnosed early because most patients have a persistent cough. The most effective treatment method is surgical removal of the tumor. The best way to decrease the risk of larynx cancer is by avoiding smoking. Quitting smoking before the age of 40 lowers the risk significantly. Other points to note about laryngeal cancer are that it’s more common in males than females and that it can be caused by other factors such as alcohol consumption, exposure to certain chemical fumes, and human papillomavirus.


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