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Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal Cancer and the Environment

Laryngeal cancer is a cancer that forms in the tissues of the larynx. The larynx is also known as the voice box. It is about the size of a lime and contains the vocal cords that help you produce sounds and talk. The larynx also helps control other important functions like breathing and swallowing. Each year, about 10,000 men and 2,500 women in the United States are diagnosed with this disease. Most of these persons will be over 65 years old.

Laryngeal cancer is most common among

  • older persons,
  • men, and
  • African Americans.

Some studies have shown that long-term exposure to secondhand smoke may increase a person's risk for laryngeal cancer. However, the impact of secondhand smoke on laryngeal cancer requires further study. Research is needed to better understand the relationship between the
environment and laryngeal cancer, which may help determine
other potential risk factors for this disease.

Exposure and Risk


Tobacco use is the single most important risk factor for developing this cancer. Since the 1950s, studies have shown a consistent link between cigarette smoking and laryngeal cancer. Heavy smokers who have smoked tobacco for a long time are most at risk for developing this disease. Incidence rates of laryngeal cancer are falling on average 2.5% a year for the past 10 years, in part, because fewer people are smoking. On the Tracking Network, you can also find data on the prevalence of smoking, which might be helpful when looking at the incidence of laryngeal cancer.


People who consume moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol also have a higher risk for developing laryngeal cancer. This risk increases even more for people who combine heavy drinking with heavy smoking.

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You may be able to reduce your risk for laryngeal cancer by avoiding known risk factors for the disease. These healthy behaviors may help prevent laryngeal cancer:

  • Don't smoke or use any tobacco products.
  • Limit your alcohol consumption. If you do choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation.
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