Asbestos Larynx Cancer
Asbestos exposure has long been linked with the development of a number of serious diseases, some of which include malignant mesothelioma, asbestos lung cancer and asbestosis. Very recently, the U.S. Government’s Institute of Medicine established what they believe to be a substantiated link between asbestos exposure and larynx cancer (laryngeal asbestos cancer).
The recent discovery follows a request made by the U.S. Senate for a series of studies to investigate possible relationships between asbestos exposure and a number of cancers of the upper-body. Aside from larynx cancer, the study is also focused on esophageal cancer and cancer of the upper throat, as well as a possible connection between asbestos exposure and colorectal/stomach cancer. Thus far, there has been insufficient evidence produced by the study to suggest anything more than a link between asbestos exposure and laryngeal cancer.
Cancer of the Larynx
Cancer of the larynx, often referred to as larynx cancer, laryngeal cancer or laryngeal carcinoma, can develop in any part of the body’s “voicebox.” The larynx encases and protects the vocal cords and is situated in the upper throat alongside the trachea and esophagus. The tumor typically affects the epithelium of the larynx, presenting in the form of squamous cell carcinoma squamous cells compose most of the tissue lining the larynx.
More often than not, cancer of the larynx is caused by smoking and heavy levels of alcohol consumption. The U.S. Government’s Institute of Medicine has traced approximately nine cases of laryngeal cancer to asbestos exposure. Fibrous asbestos particles are easily inhaled, after which they can become lodged in the mouth, throat and lungs. When these asbestos fibers become lodged in the larynx, they can potentially lead to the development of an asbestos tumor in the form of laryngeal cancer.
Symptoms of Larynx Cancer
There are a number of symptoms of larynx cancer, the onset of which typically depends on a number of factors, including patient age/health, tumor size and tumor location. As the larynx is home to the vocal cords, the most common presenting symptom of laryngeal cancer is chronic hoarseness or the feeling of having a sore throat. Persistent coughing can also prove to be indicative of the development of cancer of the larynx.
Other symptoms of larynx cancer that typically prompt a sufferer to seek medical attention can include:
- A lump or growth in the neck
- Chronic bad breath
- High pitched sound caused by abnormal gas flow in the upper-airway (stridor)
- Ear pain (otalgia)
Diagnosis of Larynx Cancer
The diagnosis of larynx cancer begins by documenting a patient’s family and medical histories. Past exposure to asbestos or asbestos-laden materials could aid in the diagnosis of a case of laryngeal asbestos cancer.
A doctor will initially judge the symptoms exhibited by the patient. If they appear to be related to the symptoms of laryngeal cancer, a physical examination that includes x-ray, MRI or CT scanning may be requested. Additionally, a fiber-optic endoscope can be inserted through the nostrils in order to visualize the larynx in a procedure known as nasal endoscopy. This quick procedure can provide further indication as to whether or not there is abnormal cellular growth on the epithelium of the larynx.
If a case of larynx cancer is suspected, a biopsy will be required in order to make a definitive diagnosis while also staging the malignancy and deciding upon the best course of treatment. The traditional cancer treatments of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are most often used to treat laryngeal cancer, the success of which is judged on a case-by-case basis.
Laryngeal Cancer Prognosis
Laryngeal cancer is a treatable malignancy; however, like all cancers, prognosis depends primarily upon how advanced the malignancy is and where in the larynx it is located. Approximately 65 percent of all laryngeal cancer sufferers will live for at least five years after being diagnosed with the malignancy. More than 55 percent of laryngeal cancer sufferers will live for at least 10 years after being diagnosed those who fall into this category will typically receive a curative treatment that eradicates the cancer.
The earlier larynx cancer treatment begins, the better the chances of patient survival. Prognosis can be affected by external factors such as whether or not the patient smokes or is otherwise in poor health. A case of laryngeal cancer may be more difficult to contain in a habitual smoker than someone in otherwise excellent health.
For information on the prognosis and life expectancy of mesothelioma patients, please visit our pages devoted to peritoneal mesothelioma life expectancy, pleural mesothelioma life expectancy and pericardial mesothelioma life expectancy.