Is Stage 3 Larynx Cancer Curable?

Reviewed on 10/11/2021

In some cases, larynx cancer (laryngeal cancer) can be cured with treatment. The 5-year survival rate for stage 3 larynx cancer is about 60%, meaning 60% of people with larynx cancer will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
In some cases, larynx cancer (laryngeal cancer) can be cured with treatment. The 5-year survival rate for stage 3 larynx cancer is about 60%, meaning 60% of people with larynx cancer will survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

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.

What are the stages of larynx cancer?

  • Stage 0: Carcinoma in situ 
    • The cancer is only in the larynx
  • Stages 1 and 2: Early stages
    • Stage 1: The tumor is only within the subglottis (the area below the vocal cords)
    • Stage 2: The tumor has grown into the vocal cords and they may not move normally
  • Stage 3: Locally advanced stage
    • The tumor is only within the larynx, and the vocal cords can’t move OR 
    • The cancer has spread to one nearby lymph node on the same side of the neck as the tumor and is not larger than 3 cm
  • Stage 4: Advanced stage
    • The cancer has spread (metastasized) to areas outside the larynx

Stage 3 larynx cancer is usually treated with surgery, chemotherapy followed by chemoradiation, or chemotherapy with radiation. Radiation therapy alone (or with the targeted drug cetuximab) or immunotherapy might be other options. Surgery for stage 3 tumors usually involves complete removal of the larynx (total laryngectomy), but a small number of cases may be treated by partial laryngectomy.

Stage 3 larynx cancer has a high risk of spreading to nearby lymph nodes (if it hasn’t already) so nearby lymph nodes are often removed with the tumor.

What is the larynx cancer life expectancy?

  • In some cases, larynx cancer can be cured with treatment, though technically when cancers go away, it is referred to as “no evidence of disease” or “NED.”
  • The 5-year survival rate for stage 3 larynx cancer is about 60%, meaning 60% of people with larynx cancer will survive for 5 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: 

  • Tobacco use
  • Moderate to heavy alcohol use
  • Inherited and acquired gene mutations
  • Some types of human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Excess body weight
  • Poor nutrition
    • Plummer-Vinson syndrome
  • Genetic syndromes
    • Fanconi anemia
    • Dyskeratosis congenita
  • Workplace exposures 
    • Wood dust, paint fumes, and certain chemicals used in the metalworking, petroleum, construction, and textile industries 
    • Asbestos 
  • Gender
    • Five times more common in men than women
    • This is believed to be due to smoking and heavy alcohol use, which are more common in men
  • Age 65 or older 
  • Race
    • More common among African Americans and non-Hispanic whites than among Asian/Pacific Islanders and American Indian/Alaska Natives
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

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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: 

What Is the Treatment for Larynx Cancer?

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

  • Surgery 
    • Endoscopic surgery
      • Vocal cord stripping 
      • Laser surgery (transoral laser microsurgery, or TLM)
    • Partial or total laryngectomy: removal of part or all of the larynx (voice box) 
    • Total or partial pharyngectomy: removal of all or part of the pharynx (throat) 
      • Reconstructive surgery may be needed following pharyngectomy to rebuild this part of the throat and improve the ability to swallow
    • Lymph node removal, if the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes
    • Thyroidectomy: removal of the thyroid gland, if the cancer spreads to 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
      • May be temporary in some cases
  • Radiation therapy 
    • External beam radiation therapy 
    • Brachytherapy
  • Chemotherapy 
  • Targeted therapy 
    • Cetuximab (Erbitux), a monoclonal antibody
  • Immunotherapy 
    • PD-1 inhibitors
      • Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) 
      • Nivolumab (Opdivo) 
  • Clinical trials
    • For patients with advanced cancer

What Are the Effects of Smoking on Larynx 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