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Laryngeal Cancer

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of laryngeal cancer can be made through the following techniques:

  • Medical history and physical examination: The patients should consult the chest specialist in case they experience symptoms related to breathing, chest pain, persistent cough, and sore throat. The patients undergo comprehensive evaluation and are enquired about the occurrence, severity, and progression of the symptoms to determine if the disease is chronic or acute. Age and gender are considered when the patients are suspected of having laryngeal cancer, as the condition commonly develops in males above the age of 55 years. Further, the medical history of the patients is thoroughly evaluated as the history of head and neck cancer increases the risk of laryngeal cancer.
  • Laryngoscopy: Laryngoscopy is the procedure to evaluate the larynx. It involves using a laryngoscope, a thin, long tube with a video camera at the end. The procedure allows the cancer specialist to closely examine the laryngeal tissues. The tissue sample may be obtained with the help of specialized tools if any abnormal tissue is viewed during laryngoscopy.
  • Nasendoscopy: Nasal endoscopy provides information about the health of sinus and nasal cavities. The procedure is performed with an endoscope. The endoscope is inserted into the nasal cavity and is guided into the throat. It detects the presence of abnormal tissues in the nasal cavity.
  • Laryngostroboscopy: It is the technique to evaluate the functioning of vocal cords during speech. It detects the presence of laryngeal cancer and is also used to analyze the effect of treatment on speech. The procedure is performed before, during, and after the cancer treatment.
  • Blood tests: No blood tests are available to diagnose laryngeal cancer. However, the patients are recommended to undergo blood tests to determine the overall health and functioning of vital organs. Further, the oxygen levels in the blood are determined as the patient with laryngeal cancer experiences difficulty in breathing. The blood tests before the laryngeal cancer surgery include platelet count, CBC, electrolytes, thyroid function tests, liver function tests, and kidney function tests.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound is also recommended in patients suspected to have laryngeal cancer. It determines if the cancer has spread to the surrounding lymph nodes.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging: MRI is usually not used in patients with early-stage laryngeal cancer. The patients undergo this imaging technique when the tumor is suspected of spreading to other organs, such as cartilage, bone, and lymph nodes. It also helps in evaluating the size of the tumor.
  • CT scan: CT scan involves using X-rays from different angles to provide detailed and high-quality 3D images of the target organs. Determining the spread of cancer cells to distant organs, cartilage, bones, and lymph nodes is recommended. A chest CT scan may also rule out the spread of cancer into the lungs or other organs in the chest cavity.
  • PET scan: PET scan involves the use of a radioactive derivative of sugar. When the sugar is injected into the vessels, it is rapidly taken up by the fast-dividing cells of the body. A specialized tracer device is used to detect the accumulation of radioactive sugar in different body areas. The test is performed to detect the spread of cancer to different body organs, including lymph nodes.
  • Barium swallow: During this test, the patients are advised to swallow the barium liquid. It coats the internal layer of the esophagus, stomach, and upper section of the small intestine. The abnormal outlines, if present, are shown when the X-ray is used.
  • Bone scan: The procedure helps to determine if cancer has spread to the bone. The test involves injecting the radioactive substances taken up by the abnormal cells in the bones. A tracer device detects the presence of a radioactive substance.
  • Biopsy: Biopsy involves taking samples of abnormal tissues and sending them to the laboratory. The pathologists examine those samples for the presence of cancer cells. Further, the biopsy also helps determine the type of mutation in the cells that assist the oncologists in developing an optimal treatment strategy for laryngeal cancer. In most cases, biopsies may be performed during laryngoscopy and endoscopy. However, if the patient lumps the neck, the sample is taken through a technique known as the fine needle aspiration technique.


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