Types of Treatment for Laryngeal Cancer

There are 4 main treatment methods for laryngeal cancer. Each has a different purpose:

  • Surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor from the larynx while leaving as much of the larynx intact as possible. People who have any part of the larynx removed will have voice changes after the surgery. Depending on the extent of the surgery, some people may no longer be able to speak normally.  

  • Radiation therapy. The goal of radiation is to kill cancer cells using powerful X-rays. This treatment can be used to shrink a tumor before surgery. Or it can be used after surgery to get rid of any remaining cancer cells. It may also be used instead of surgery.

  • Chemotherapy. For laryngeal cancer, the goal of chemotherapy is to reduce the chance that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body. Or, if the cancer has already spread, chemotherapy can treat the spread. Your doctor may prescribe chemotherapy before or after surgery. In some cases, the doctor may use chemotherapy and radiation therapy together to kill all cancer cells. If that’s the case for you, you may not need surgery and your voice box may be preserved.

  • Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific parts of cancer cells. It might be used along with radiation therapy to help treat early stage laryngeal cancer. Or it might be used along with or after chemotherapy for cancers that have come back or spread to other parts of the body.