People with a family history of laryngeal cancer may have an increased risk of developing the condition. However, scientists are still investigating how a person’s genes may affect their risk of developing laryngeal cancer.

Laryngeal cancer is a type of cancer that first develops in a person’s larynx, which is an organ at the top of the neck. Some people may also refer to the larynx as the voice box.

This article explores laryngeal cancer and genetics. It also outlines laryngeal cancer risk factors, treatment, and when someone should consider speaking with a healthcare professional.

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People with a close family history of laryngeal cancer are more likely to develop it than people without, according to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).

A person cannot pass cancer itself to their children, but they can pass down mutated genes to them. Having these inherited gene defects, or abnormalities, can make a person more likely to develop certain cancers. Doctors may refer to them as inherited cancers.

Inherited genetic changes cause up to 10% of all cancers. People should note that having a cancer-related genetic change does not guarantee a person will have cancer. Instead, it increases their risk of developing the condition.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), scientists believe that laryngeal cancer probably requires several different gene changes or mutations to develop. Scientists do not yet understand all of these changes. Therefore, they are still investigating the gene changes that increase a person’s risk factors.

A 2022 study found a link between certain gene mutations, particularly on the ZNF208 gene, and an increased risk of laryngeal cancer in northwestern Chinese Han males. However, the researchers did note that their study’s sample size was small and that they did not investigate how other risk factors may have influenced their results.

Some inherited gene abnormalities may also indirectly cause laryngeal cancer. When parents pass on some gene abnormalities to a child, the child may develop certain syndromes, which healthcare professionals define as a group of signs and symptoms that occur together without an identifiable direct cause.

Syndromes associated with a high risk of laryngeal cancer include:

  • Dyskeratosis congenita: This is a rare condition that can cause skin rashes, aplastic anemia, and abnormal fingernails and toenails. Individuals with this condition are at an elevated risk of developing head and neck cancers, such as laryngeal cancer.
  • Fanconi anemia: People with this rare syndrome often have blood problems from a young age. They also have an elevated risk of developing mouth and throat cancers, including laryngeal cancer.

According to the NHS, the main risk factors for laryngeal cancer are drinking alcohol and smoking. A person’s risk of laryngeal cancer decreases after they quit smoking. However, it can remain higher for years after.

Other laryngeal cancer risk factors include:

According to the NHS, healthcare professionals often use different treatments depending on the size of a person’s laryngeal cancer. They may use a single treatment or a combination of treatments, which may include:

People should speak with a healthcare professional if they experience symptoms of laryngeal cancer, such as:

People who are concerned about their genetic cancer risk should seek professional medical advice. People can purchase home genetic testing kits, but doctors do not typically recommend them.

A person can inherit gene abnormalities that increase their laryngeal cancer risk. People with certain genetic syndromes may also be more likely to develop laryngeal cancer.

However, scientists are still studying the link between a person’s genetics and laryngeal cancer. Additionally, smoking and alcohol use are the main causes of laryngeal cancer in people.

Doctors may use several methods to treat a person’s laryngeal cancer, such as surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

People should seek professional medical advice if they are experiencing any symptoms of laryngeal cancer, such as a persistent cough or sore throat, ear pain, or difficulty swallowing. A person should also speak with a doctor if they wish to know more about their genetic risk of developing laryngeal cancer.