Laryngeal Tumor

Tumors of the throat or voice box are referred to as laryngeal tumors.  As a hollow muscular organ, the larynx is home to the voice box and allows air to travel down from the nose and mouth into the lungs.  Tumors are abnormal growths of tissue that can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).  Other growths, such as cysts, can also cause obstruction or other problems in the larynx.

Laryngeal tumors, regardless of type, typically cause the same constellation of symptoms.

  • Hoarseness
  • Voice strain or weakness
  • Sensation of a lump in the throat
  • Constant coughing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Scratchy throat
  • Ear pain

Anyone with these symptoms for an extended period of time should seek medical attention to rule out laryngeal tumors and other possible causes.  Diagnosis involves a thorough head and neck examination likely with a direct or micro laryngoscopy.  Laryngoscopy uses a small, flexible scope that allows the otolaryngologist (a.k.a. ENT specialist), like Dr. Bailey, to visualize the structures and tissue of the larynx and assess for proper function and identify any abnormalities.  With the laryngoscope, vibrations of the vocal cords are also examined and evaluated for any deficits.  Further evaluation may also be conducted by other health professionals such as speech therapist, who will measure and assess vocal quality, efficiency and proper speaking technique.

Types of Non-Cancerous Growths

  • Vocal nodules
  • Vocal polyps
  • Granulomas caused by intubation
  • Reinke’s Edema (swelling of the vocal cords)
  • Cysts (fluid filled sacs)
  • Laryngeal papillomatosis (caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Glandular Tumor (an abnormally grown gland)
  • Chondroma (an abnormal growth of cartilage)
  • Hemangioma (an abnormal growth of capillaries)
  • Lipoma (an abnormal growth of fatty tissue)

Types of Cancerous Laryngeal Tumors

  • Carcinoma in situ
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma
  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Squamous Cell carcinoma
  • Undifferentiated carcinoma

Risk Factors

Cancerous laryngeal tumors are not extremely common but there are certain environmental and genetic factors that can increase one’s risk. 

  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) of the mouth
  • Tobacco smoking
  • Age over 55 years
  • African-American descent
  • Male gender
  • Exposure to asbestos


Treatment for the non-cancerous type of laryngeal tumors usually involves surgery or laser therapy.  For cancerous growths, treatment depends on the type, stage and cause of the cancer but often