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Who is at risk for cancer of the larynx?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Factors that make a person more likely to contract cancer of the larynx include:

  • Family history: A family history of cancer can indicate a raised risk of contracting cancer. In the case of inheritable diseases like Fanconi anemia and dyskeratosis congenita, risk is considerably higher for the development of cancers of the mouth and throat.
  • Age: Cancer of the larynx is found more than half the time in people over the age of 65.
  • Gender: Men are four times more likely than women to get cancer of the larynx.
  • Race: African Americans and Caucasians are more likely than Latinos or Asians to be diagnosed with cancer of the larynx.
  • Smoking: Smokers are far more likely than nonsmokers to get cancer of the larynx. Smoking is the single most biggest risk factor in laryngeal cancer.
  • Alcohol: Moderate to heavy drinking increases the risk of laryngeal cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol that is consumed. The risk also increases if the person drinks alcohol and also smokes tobacco.
  • A personal history of laryngeal cancer: As many as one in four people who have had laryngeal cancer will develop a second primary tumor.
  • Occupation: Workers exposed to sulfuric acid mist or nickel have an increased risk of laryngeal cancer. Also, working with asbestos is believed to increase the risk of this disease. Workers who handle any risky substances should follow work and safety rules to avoid inhaling dangerous fumes.

Infection with human papilloma virus in the mouth or throat can raise the risk of laryngeal cancer as well. Poor nutrition may be another risk factor, although that is often seen with heavy alcohol consumption. Another risk factor may be having gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which causes stomach acid to flow up into the esophagus; it is thought to increase the risk of esophageal cancer and is suspected of raising the risk of laryngeal cancer as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.