Laryngeal cancer affects the tissues of the larynx, or voice box. The larynx connects the throat to the trachea, or windpipe. Risk factors for this type of cancer include tobacco and alcohol use.
Certain factors can increase a person’s risk of laryngeal cancer. The most significant risk factors for this type of cancer are tobacco use and moderate to heavy alcohol consumption.
Other risk factors include older age, workplace exposure to carcinogenic substances, and certain genetic diseases.
This article outlines seven risk factors for laryngeal cancer.
1. Tobacco and alcohol use
According to the ACS, tobacco use is the most significant risk factor for laryngeal cancer and other head and neck cancers. The more a person uses tobacco, the greater their risk of developing such cancers.
Moderate to heavy alcohol use also increases someone’s risk of head and neck cancers, but to a lesser extent than tobacco use. However, people who consume both alcohol and tobacco have an even greater risk of developing these cancers.
2. Workplace exposures
Long-term and excessive exposure to the following can increase the risk of both laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers:
- wood dust
- paint fumes
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) lists some additional known occupational carcinogens, including:
- diesel engine exhaust
3. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
Certain types of HPV infections can increase the risk of various types of cancer, including oropharyngeal cancer or cancer of the throat, tonsils, or soft palate.
Some HPV infections may also increase the risk of laryngeal cancer.
4. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
GERD is a condition where stomach contents leak into the esophagus, resulting in acid reflux and heartburn. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, GERD is one of the most common gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, affecting up to 20% of the United States population.
The study found a modest correlation between GERD and laryngeal cancer. However, the authors noted that further research is necessary to confirm a connection between both conditions.
FA is a
DC is another rare genetic disorder that can affect the bone marrow and the lungs. People with this condition are prone to developing oral lesions and are at high risk of developing cancers of the mouth and throat.
Laryngeal cancer is about five times more common in males than females. One reason for this is that tobacco and alcohol use are more common among males.
The majority of people who receive a diagnosis of laryngeal cancer are
Tobacco use is the most significant risk factor for laryngeal cancer. The risk increases dramatically if a person also drinks alcohol in moderate to heavy amounts.
Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption can lower the risk of head, neck, and other cancers.
A person can speak with a doctor for help quitting smoking. The doctor may recommend medications, such as nicotine patches, lozenges, or gums. The
Help is also available for people with alcohol use disorder. The
Individuals can also have the HPV vaccine to help prevent the infection.
Anyone with one or more risk factors for laryngeal cancer may want to consult a doctor for information and advice on reducing their risk.
People can contact a doctor as soon as possible if they experience symptoms of laryngeal cancer. Some symptoms to look out for include:
- a sore throat or persistent cough
- difficulty swallowing, or pain when swallowing
- ear pain
- a lump in the throat or neck
- hoarseness, or other changes to the voice
It is important to note that these can be symptoms of other conditions besides laryngeal cancer. However, it is best to contact a doctor to rule out anything serious, especially if individuals have risk factors for head and neck cancer.
Laryngeal cancer refers to cancer of the larynx. The biggest risk factors for this type of cancer are tobacco use and moderate to heavy alcohol consumption. Other risk factors include workplace exposure to carcinogens, certain underlying health conditions, and rare genetic diseases.
People with concerns about their laryngeal cancer risk need to speak with a doctor for further advice and guidance.