Laryngeal cancer is more common in older adults than in younger people. Age may affect the type of treatment people have and their overall outlook, although other factors also play an important role.

Laryngeal cancer is much more common in older adults, but it can also occur in younger adults. Tobacco use is the most significant risk factor for laryngeal cancer.

Age may also affect how long it takes people to seek a diagnosis, types of treatment, and outlook.

This article examines how age may affect laryngeal cancer, including diagnosis, treatment, and outlook.

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According to the American Cancer Society, a laryngeal cancer diagnosis is most common in people ages 55 years or above, with most diagnoses occurring in people who are around 66 years old.

A laryngeal cancer diagnosis is much less common in people under the age of 55 years.

Laryngeal cancer is also more common in males than in females. Laryngeal cancer is more common, with a higher mortality rate, in Black males compared with white males.

The most significant risk factor for laryngeal cancer and other head and neck cancers is tobacco use. People who smoke and drink alcohol have the highest risk of all.

However, the rate of new laryngeal cancer diagnoses is dropping by around 2% to 3% each year because the number of people smoking is also dropping.

Learn about laryngeal cancer risk factors.

A 2019 study examined laryngeal cancer survival rates in people under the age of 40 years at the time of diagnosis, compared with older people. The study focused on laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma, the most common type of laryngeal cancer.

The study highlights research suggesting younger people with laryngeal cancer may have more advanced cancer at diagnosis compared with older people.

Older research within the study offers mixed results about survival rates. Some studies suggest similar survival rates for younger and older people, while others suggest the outlook may be better for younger people.

The 2019 study authors found that laryngeal cancer in younger people may be less aggressive, and survival rates may be significantly better in younger people than older people.

The 5-year cancer-specific survival rate was 88.8% in younger people compared with 67.6% in older people.

The researchers found that distant metastasis may be higher in older people with more aggressive cancer.

Some research suggests age may affect the outcome of certain treatments for laryngeal cancer.

According to a 2019 study, treatment outcomes of radical radiotherapy or total laryngectomy may vary depending on age. Radical radiotherapy uses high doses of radiation to destroy cancer cells. Total laryngectomy is the complete surgical removal of the larynx.

The study found that in people under the age of 40 years, treatment with total laryngectomy or radical radiotherapy resulted in excellent survival rates, regardless of the stage or grade of cancer.

Researchers in the 2019 study found that in older people with T4 tumors, which is the largest size of tumor, radical radiotherapy had significantly worse 5-year survival rates compared with treatment with total laryngectomy.

Symptoms of laryngeal cancer may vary depending on the area of the larynx the cancer affects rather than age. Symptoms of laryngeal cancer may include:

Research suggests age may play a role in the detection and diagnosis of laryngeal cancer. A 2018 article suggests that older adults may link any health concern to old age rather than a health condition, which may delay seeking a diagnosis.

Older age may also be a barrier to seeking an early diagnosis. This is due to a lack of quality information or education about cancer and the importance of early detection.

Other research suggests younger people may be more likely to ignore early signs of laryngeal cancer. This may result in a later diagnosis at a more advanced stage of the disease.

Learn about the early and late stage symptoms of laryngeal cancer.

People will need to contact a doctor if they have any voice changes, such as hoarseness, that do not get better within 2 weeks.

People will also need to contact a doctor as soon as possible if they have any other symptoms, such as pain or difficulty swallowing or breathing.

Various other conditions can cause the same symptoms as laryngeal cancer. Seeing a doctor can help someone learn the underlying cause and receive prompt treatment.

Laryngeal cancer is more common in adults over the age of 55 years than younger people. The average age of diagnosis is around 66 years. The highest risk factor for laryngeal cancer is tobacco use.

Age may affect the type of treatment a doctor suggests. This depends on individual risk of surgery or drug treatments, such as chemotherapy.

Age may also affect survival rates. However, other factors, such as the stage of cancer and overall health, play a significant role in outlook.