Larynx, tumour of

Benign tumours of the larynx often occur in young children and disappear spontaneously at puberty. Such tumours are rare in adults. Persistent strain on the vocal cords can cause nodules, but these usually disappear spontaneously when the voice is rested. Malignant tumours usually appear between the ages of 50 and 70, ten times more often in men than women, almost 70 per cent of them on the vocal cords. They give early symptoms in the form of voice changes. Factors which encourage the development of this sort of cancer are smoking (particularly of cigarettes), excessive drinking, inhaling wood and metal dust and possibly abuse of the voice. Any hoarseness or huskiness which persists for more than three weeks should not be dismissed as a persistent cold. A doctor should be consulted immediately. Cancers of the vocal cords are the most favourable larynx cancers because they rarely metastasize, and then late. Tumours between the vocal cords and the larynx do not cause discomfort until later, by which time they have reached a considerable size. The patient feels an obstruction when swallowing, and swallowing is often also associated with pain, radiating to one or both ears. If these discomforts are ignored, the first symptom can be swelling in the neck,