Laryngeal cancer natural history, complications and prognosis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Omer Kamal, M.D.[2], Rim Halaby, M.D. [3], Faizan Sheraz, M.D. [4]


If left untreated, laryngeal cancer produces few symptoms early in the course. Once the tumor has expanded from its site of origin, it may obstruct the airway. Common complications of laryngeal cancer include airway obstruction, neck disfigurement, and voice abnormalities. The prognosis varies with the type and stage of laryngeal cancer. Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of larynx has the most unfavorable prognosis. The 3-year survival rate for supraglottic laryngeal cancer and T3 transglottic carcinoma are 91.7% and 73.2%, respectively.

Natural history

The natural history of laryngeal carcinoma depends on the site:[1]

Supraglottic tumors [2][3]

Glottic tumors [4][5]

Subglottic tumors [5][6]


Common complications of laryngeal cancer include:[7][8]



  1. Ferlito A (March 1995). "The natural history of early vocal cord cancer". Acta Otolaryngol. 115 (2): 345–7. PMID 7610838.
  2. Ding W, Liu T, Liang J, Hu T, Cui S, Zou G, Cai W, Yang A (2017). "Supraglottic squamous cell carcinomas have distinctive clinical features and prognosis based on subregion". PLoS ONE. 12 (11): e0188322. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0188322. PMC 5695779. PMID 29155864.
  3. Bocca E (August 1975). "Supraglottic cancer". Laryngoscope. 85 (8): 1318–26. doi:10.1288/00005537-197508000-00007. PMID 1160463.
  4. Zainuddin N, Mohd Kornain NK (2016). "Glottic cancer in a non-smoking patient with laryngopharyngeal reflux". Malays Fam Physician. 11 (2–3): 35–37. PMC 5408877. PMID 28461858.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hinerman RW, Mendenhall WM, Amdur RJ, Villaret DB, Robbins KT (February 2002). "Early laryngeal cancer". Curr Treat Options Oncol. 3 (1): 3–9. PMID 12057082.
  6. Sessions DG, Ogura JH, Fried MP (September 1975). "Carcinoma of the subglottic area". Laryngoscope. 85 (9): 1417–23. doi:10.1288/00005537-197509000-00001. PMID 1177633.
  7. Jones TM, De M, Foran B, Harrington K, Mortimore S (May 2016). "Laryngeal cancer: United Kingdom National Multidisciplinary guidelines". J Laryngol Otol. 130 (S2): S75–S82. doi:10.1017/S0022215116000487. PMC 4873912. PMID 27841116.
  8. Issa MR, Samuels SE, Bellile E, Shalabi FL, Eisbruch A, Wolf G (November 2015). "Tumor Volumes and Prognosis in Laryngeal Cancer". Cancers (Basel). 7 (4): 2236–61. doi:10.3390/cancers7040888. PMC 4695888. PMID 26569309.
  9. Woo JS, Baek SK, Kwon SY, Jung KY, Lee J (October 2003). "T3 supraglottic cancer: treatment results and prognostic factors". Acta Otolaryngol. 123 (8): 980–6. PMID 14606603.
  10. Ang KK, Harris J, Wheeler R, Weber R, Rosenthal DI, Nguyen-Tân PF, Westra WH, Chung CH, Jordan RC, Lu C, Kim H, Axelrod R, Silverman CC, Redmond KP, Gillison ML (July 2010). "Human papillomavirus and survival of patients with oropharyngeal cancer". N. Engl. J. Med. 363 (1): 24–35. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0912217. PMC 2943767. PMID 20530316.

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