Treatments for laryngeal cancer

If you have laryngeal cancer, your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer. When deciding which treatments to offer for laryngeal cancer, your healthcare team will consider:

  • the location of the tumour
  • the stage of the tumour
  • your general health
  • your age
  • what you prefer or want

Expert review and references

  • American Cancer Society. Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancers. 2014:
  • Ferris, RL, Blumenschein G, Fayette J, Guigay J, et al . Nivolumab for recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. New England Journal of Medicine. 2016.
  • Mendenhall WM, Werning JW, Pfister DG . Cancer of the head and neck. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 38: 422-473.
  • National Cancer Institute. Laryngeal Cancer Treatment for Health Professionals (PDQ®). 2016:

Treatments for carcinoma of the glottis

Glottic carcinoma is cancer that starts in the glottis of the larynx. It is the most common type of laryngeal cancer. In general, glottic cancer is well differentiated (low grade) and grows slowly.

Treatments for supraglottic carcinoma

Supraglottic carcinoma is cancer that starts in the supraglottis of the larynx. It is the second most common type of laryngeal cancer. The supraglottis contains many lymph vessels. As a result, supraglottic carcinomas commonly spread to the lymph nodes. Radiation therapy is often given to the lymph nodes.

Treatments for carcinoma of the subglottis

Subglottic carcinoma is cancer that starts in the subglottis of the larynx. It is a very rare type of laryngeal cancer.

Radiation therapy for laryngeal cancer

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. It is usually used to treat laryngeal cancer.

Surgery for laryngeal cancer

The main goal of surgery for laryngeal cancer is to completely remove the cancer while saving as much function of the larynx (speaking, swallowing and breathing) as possible. This is called laryngeal preservation or conservation. For laryngeal preservation, other treatments are often considered first to avoid having a total laryngectomy.

Chemotherapy for laryngeal cancer

Chemotherapy is used to treat advanced laryngeal cancer. It is usually given along with radiation therapy (chemoradiation).

Targeted therapy for laryngeal cancer

A targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs to target specific molecules (usually proteins) involved in cancer cell growth while limiting harm to normal cells. Targeted therapy may also be called molecular targeted therapy.

Immunotherapy for laryngeal cancer

Immunotherapy is sometimes used to treat laryngeal cancer. Immunotherapy helps to strengthen or restore the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is sometimes called biological therapy.

Follow-up after treatment for laryngeal cancer

Laryngeal cancer behaves differently in each person, and a standard follow-up schedule would not work for everyone. Talk with your doctor about a follow-up plan that suits your situation. Follow-up care is often shared among the cancer specialists (surgeon, radiation oncologist and medical oncologist) and your family doctor, dentist and speech therapist.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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