Laryngeal Cancer and Papillomatosis in Children

What Is Laryngeal Cancer?

Laryngeal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the larynx. The larynx is also called the voice box. It's the part of the throat that has the vocal cords and is used in breathing, swallowing, and talking. Rhabdomyosarcoma (a malignant tumor of muscle) is the most common type of laryngeal cancer in children. Squamous cell carcinoma is a less common type of laryngeal cancer in children.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Laryngeal Cancer in Children?

Laryngeal cancer may cause any of the following signs and symptoms. Check with your child’s doctor if your child has any of the following:
  • Hoarseness or a change in the voice.
  • Trouble or pain when swallowing.
  • A lump in the neck or throat.
  • A sore throat or cough that does not go away.
  • Ear pain.
Other conditions that are not laryngeal cancer may cause these same signs and symptoms.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Laryngeal Cancer in Children?

Tests to diagnose and stage laryngeal cancer may include the following:

Other tests used to diagnose laryngeal cancer include the following:

Laryngoscopy: A procedure to look at the larynx (voice box) for abnormal areas. A mirror or a laryngoscope (a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing) is inserted through the mouth to see the larynx. A special tool on the laryngoscope may be used to remove samples of tissue. The tissues samples are viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer.

Barium swallow: A series of x-rays of the esophagus and stomach. The patient drinks a liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound). The liquid coats the esophagus and stomach, and x-rays are taken. This procedure is also called an upper GI series.

What Is the Treatment for Laryngeal Cancer in Children?

Treatment of laryngeal cancer in children may include the following:

  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for rhabdomyosarcomas.
  • Laser surgery and radiation therapy for squamous cell cancer. Laser surgery uses a laser beam (a narrow beam of intense light) to turn the cancer cells into a gas that evaporates (dissolves into the air).

What Is Papillomatosis?

Papillomatosis of the larynx is a condition that causes papillomas (benign tumors that look like warts) to form in the tissue that lines the larynx. Papillomatosis may be caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Papillomas in the larynx may block the airway and cause trouble breathing. These growths often recur (come back) after treatment and may become cancer of the larynx.

What Is the Treatment for Papillomatosis in Children?

Treatment of papillomatosis in children may include the following:

  • Laser surgery for papillomatosis and other benign tumors.

For papillomas that come back after being removed by laser surgery four times in one year, treatment may include:

  • Immunotherapy, such as interferon or vaccine therapy.
  • Laser surgery combined with targeted therapy using bevacizumab.

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Last updated Oct. 6, 2017