In mid-August this year, the results of a study on the global burden of disease in 2019 were published, which assessed the global burden of disease and associated risk factors for respiratory cancers from 1990 to 2019. The relevant data in the assessment showed that there were 209,000 new cases of laryngeal cancer worldwide in 2019, including 181,000 for men and 28,000 for women. Compared to the previous 10 years, the number of new cases of laryngeal cancer increased by 24.7% between 2010 and 2019. The report states that the number of deaths from laryngeal cancer in 2019 was 123,000, including 106,000 for men and 17,000 for women, and that the mortality rate of laryngeal cancer patients of both sexes decreased to some extent between 2010 and 2019, due to the favorable long-term survival brought by early detection and early treatment.
Incidence of laryngeal cancer is increasing year by year
The cause of laryngeal cancer is still not very clear, but a phenomenon that cannot be ignored is that the incidence rate in cities with high air pollution is significantly higher than that in cities with light air pollution. Prof. Chuncheng Hao pointed out that, in addition to air pollution factors, it is generally believed that mucosal damage from gastroesophageal reflux, abnormal hormone levels, deficiency of trace elements and vitamins, long-term decline in immune function of the body, and family genetics will all have different degrees of influence on the development of laryngeal cancer. In terms of age group and gender, laryngeal cancer is more common in middle-aged and elderly men aged 50-70 years old, and the incidence rate of men is higher than that of women, about 10 to 1. Moreover, the younger the incidence, the more malignant the tumor usually is.
Early warning of vocal cord should be taken seriously
One of the most important features of head and neck tumors is that early symptoms are not typical and obvious, which can be easily overlooked. The most common symptom of early laryngeal cancer is the quiet change of voice and foreign body sensation in the throat. When middle-aged and elderly people have hoarseness or urgent discomfort in the throat for more than two weeks, and their voices do not improve even after taking some throat-clearing drugs, they must go to the hospital for laryngeal examination, especially laryngoscopy, in time. With the improvement and development of technology, the fiberoptic laryngoscope is now able to get the clearest and most direct diagnosis with the least pain to the patient, and can take biopsy directly, saving the trouble of secondary re-examination. If neck masses have been able to be palpated, ultrasonography should also be done to clarify the size and nature of these masses to prepare for the next step of treatment.
The most common shared symptom of progressive head and neck tumors is a neck mass, because all head and neck tumors share a common lymph node drainage area, and often 30-50% of patients come to the clinic only after a neck mass is found. Neck masses usually start growing 1 to 2 cm down from the lower edge of the ear just below the back of the jaw and gradually spread down the sides of the neck, either as one or multiple masses. It is important to learn how to self-test the neck on a daily basis, as follows: first, touch down with three fingers from below the base of one ear, past the jaw, and down the side of the neck until you touch the clavicle. When touching, pay attention to whether you can encounter round-like, hard masses with different sizes, poor mobility and unclear borders, and check one side after the other; also compare the two sides to see if they are symmetrical, usually neck masses do not grow completely symmetrically.
Radiotherapy has advantages in curbing laryngeal cancer
The anatomical structure of head and neck is complex, and the nerves, muscles and blood vessels inside are as dense as a spider’s web, which makes the surgery risky and extremely difficult. Usually, even if the tumor removed during surgery is early, it is easy to injure normal tissues and cannot guarantee the patient’s subsequent functional recovery, among which voice loss is the most common postoperative sequelae. Hao Chuncheng explained that laryngeal cancer is mostly hypofractionated tumor, which is sensitive to radiation. Radiotherapy can achieve comparable treatment effect with surgery while preserving tissue function to the maximum extent. With the rapid progress of radiotherapy technology, radiotherapy has now been fully individualized and precise, each patient has a “personalized” medical plan, such technology in sniping cancer cells, but also to avoid large doses of radiation to surrounding tissues and organs, greatly improving the quality of life of patients after radiation therapy.
Bad habits need to be eliminated
As the most common malignant tumor in the respiratory tract, laryngeal cancer is a tumor disease caused by epithelial tissue lesions in the larynx mucosa, which mostly occurs in middle-aged and elderly men and is closely related to bad habits, especially those who smoke and drink for years or inhale harmful substances for a long time, which will not only affect the throat but also cause great damage to the eyes, organs, esophagus, lungs and stomach.
In daily life, the first thing to do is to eliminate the hazards of tobacco. Professor Hao explained that the nicotine, coal tar and benzo(a)pyrene produced in tobacco are carcinogens, which can directly damage the upper respiratory tract and induce laryngeal cancer, and the longer the age of smoking, the higher the chance of throat cancer. Secondly, do not drink heavily. Long-term heavy drinking is likely to make the larynx continuously congested and edematous, and it will easily lead to malnutrition and low immunity, which will lay the foundation for cancer formation. Third, stay away from chemical carcinogens. Hao Chuncheng cautioned that if the environment in life and production is polluted by air, and chemical harmful substances such as chromium, arsenic and sulfur dioxide are inhaled, there will be an increased possibility of throat cancer and other throat diseases. Fourth, no spicy diners, try to “control the mouth”, eat less hot and spicy things, especially pharyngitis, gastritis and poor intestinal function of people, more careful to prevent.
Finally, when hoarseness, vocal and swallowing difficulties, breathing problems, please be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible to find out what the symptoms are.