How Long Can You Live with Larynx Cancer?

Reviewed on 10/11/2021

The five-year survival rates (how many people will be alive five years after diagnosis) for larynx cancer vary depending on the type of cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
The five-year survival rates (how many people will be alive five years after diagnosis) for larynx cancer vary depending on the type of cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.

Larynx cancer (laryngeal cancer) is a type of head and neck cancer that occurs when cells in the larynx (voice box) grow abnormally and out of control.

How long a person can live with larynx cancer depends on the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed, the grade of the cancer, and the part of the larynx in which the cancer originated.

There are three parts of the larynx that can be affected by laryngeal cancer: 

  • Supraglottis
    • Located just above the vocal cords
    • Contains the epiglottis, a flap of tissue that closes off the larynx when you swallow
    • About one-third of larynx cancers begin here
  • Glottis
    • Contains the vocal cords
    • Most larynx cancers originate here
  • Subglottis
    • Located below the vocal cords
    • Only about 5% of larynx cancers start here

Life expectancy for larynx cancer is often expressed in five-year survival rates, that is, how many people will be alive five years after diagnosis. The survival rates for larynx cancer are listed in the table below.

Larynx (Laryngeal) Cancer Survival Rates Chart
Cancer Type Survival Rate
The five-year survival rate for localized larynx cancer in the supraglottis (cancer that has not spread outside the larynx) 61%
The five-year survival rate for regional larynx cancer in the supraglottis (cancer has spread outside the larynx to nearby structures or lymph nodes) 47%
The five-year survival rate for distant larynx cancer in the supraglottis (cancer has spread to distant parts of the body) 31%
The five-year survival rate for localized larynx cancer in the glottis (cancer that has not spread outside the larynx) 83%
The five-year survival rate for regional larynx cancer in the glottis (cancer has spread outside the larynx to nearby structures or lymph nodes) 49%
The five-year survival rate for distant larynx cancer in the glottis (cancer has spread to distant parts of the body) 43%
The five-year survival rate for localized larynx cancer in the subglottis (cancer that has not spread outside the larynx) 63%
The five-year survival rate for regional larynx cancer in the subglottis (cancer has spread outside the larynx to nearby structures or lymph nodes) 35%
The five-year survival rate for distant larynx cancer in the subglottis (cancer has spread to distant parts of the body) 43%

Overall, for all cases and types of laryngeal cancer, about 55% of patients survive for 10 years or more after diagnosis.

What Are Symptoms of Larynx Cancer?

Symptoms of larynx cancer (laryngeal cancer) include:

What Causes Larynx Cancer?

Larynx cancer (laryngeal cancer) occurs when genes mutate, though the reason this occurs is unknown in many cases. 

Risk factors for developing larynx cancer include: 

How Is Larynx Cancer Diagnosed?

Larynx cancer (laryngeal cancer) is diagnosed with a patient history and a physical examination. Tests used to diagnose larynx cancer include: 

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What Is the Treatment for Larynx Cancer?

Treatment for larynx cancer (laryngeal cancer) may include one or more of the following: 

  • Surgery 
    • Endoscopic surgery
    • Laryngectomy: partial or total removal of part or all of the larynx (voice box) 
    • Pharyngectomy: partial or total removal of all or part of the pharynx (throat) 
    • Lymph node removal, if the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes
    • Thyroidectomy: removal of the thyroid gland
    • Reconstructive surgery to help restore the structure or function in areas affected by surgery to remove the cancer
    • Tracheostomy
    • Gastrostomy tube, in cases where it is difficult to swallow food
    • Radiation therapy 
    • Chemotherapy 
    • Targeted therapy (monoclonal antibodies)
    • Immunotherapy (PD-1 inhibitors)
    • Clinical trials, for patients with advanced cancer

Patients who smoke should quit smoking before starting treatment for larynx cancer. Smoking during treatment is linked to poor wound healing, more side effects, and less benefit from treatment which can increase the risk of the cancer recurring. Smoking after treatment also may raise the risk of developing another new cancer. 

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Reviewed on 10/11/2021
References
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/laryngeal-and-hypopharyngeal-cancer.html

https://cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/laryngeal/staging

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/laryngeal-cancer/survival