Can Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancers Be Found Early?

Screening is testing for cancer or pre-cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease. Screening tests may find some types of cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful.

For now, there is no screening test to find laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers early. These cancers are often hard to find and diagnose without complex tests. Because these cancers are not common, and the tests need specialized doctors, neither the American Cancer Society nor any other group recommends routine screening for these cancers.

Sometimes though, laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers can be found early. They usually cause symptoms, such as voice changes, which are described in Signs and Symptoms of Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancers. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. Many of the symptoms of laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers are often seen in less serious, benign (non-cancer) conditions, or in other cancers. It is important to see a doctor to find out what is causing your symptoms. The sooner the cause is found, the sooner it can be treated, if needed.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Bevers T, El-Serag H, Hanash S, Thrift AP, Tsai K, Maresso KC and Hawk E. Chapter 23 – Screening and Early Detection. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2020.

Leeman JE, Katabi N, Wong, RJ, Lee NY, and Romesser PB. Chapter 65 - Cancer of the Head and Neck. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2020.

National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Oral Cavity, Pharyngeal, and Laryngeal Cancer Prevention (PDQ). February 27, 2020. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/hp/oral-prevention-pdq on September 9, 2020.

National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Oral Cavity, Pharyngeal, and Laryngeal Cancer Prevention (PDQ). March 28, 2019. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/oral-prevention-pdq on September 9, 2020.

Last Revised: January 21, 2021

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