PDFs by language
Our 24/7 cancer helpline provides support for people dealing with cancer. We can connect you with trained cancer information specialists who will answer questions about a cancer diagnosis and provide guidance and a compassionate ear.
Chat live online
Select the Live Chat button at the bottom of the page
At our National Cancer Information Center trained Cancer Information Specialists can answer questions 24 hours a day, every day of the year to empower you with accurate, up-to-date information to help you make educated health decisions. We connect patients, caregivers, and family members with valuable services and resources.
Or ask us how you can get involved and support the fight against cancer. Some of the topics we can assist with include:
For medical questions, we encourage you to review our information with your doctor.
Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer
In most cases, laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers are found because of the symptoms they cause.
Laryngeal cancers that form on the vocal cords (glottis) often cause hoarseness or a change in the voice. This might lead to them being found at a very early stage. If you have voice changes (like hoarseness) that do not improve within 2 weeks see your health care provider right away. Pain and trouble breathing or swallowing might be symptoms of more advanced laryngeal cancer.
For cancers that don’t start on the vocal cords, hoarseness occurs only after these cancers reach a later stage or have spread to the vocal cords. These cancers are sometimes not found until they have spread to the lymph nodes and you notice a growing mass in your neck.
Cancers that start in the area of the larynx above the vocal cords (supraglottis), the area below the vocal cords (subglottis), or the hypopharynx do not usually cause voice changes, and are therefore more often found at later stages.
Signs and symptoms of these cancers may include:
Many of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by conditions other than laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer. Still, if you have any of these symptoms, it is very important to have them checked by a doctor so that the cause can be found and 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.
Leeman JE, Katabi N, Wong, RJ, Lee NY, 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.
Mendenhall WM, Dziegielewski PT, Pfister DG. Chapter 45- Cancer of the Head and Neck. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2019.
National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Hypopharyngeal Cancer Treatment. October 04, 2019. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/hp/adult/hypopharyngeal-treatment-pdq on September 9, 2020.
National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Hypopharyngeal Cancer Treatment. October 04, 2019. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/adult/hypopharyngeal-treatment-pdq on September 9, 2020.
National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Laryngeal Cancer Treatment. January 23, 2020. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/hp/adult/laryngeal-treatment-pdq on September 9, 2020.
National Cancer Institute. Physician Data Query (PDQ). Laryngeal Cancer Treatment. November 21, 2019. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/head-and-neck/patient/adult/laryngeal-treatment-pdq on September 9, 2020.
Last Revised: January 21, 2021
American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.