Laryngeal cancers are mostly squamous cell carcinomas, reflecting their origin from the skin of the larynx.
Cancer can develop in any part of the larynx, but the cure rate is affected by the location of the tumour. For the purposes of staging, the larynx is divided into three anatomical regions: the glottis (true vocal cords, anterior and posterior commissures); the supraglottis (epiglottis, arytenoids and aryepiglottic folds, and false cords); and the subglottis.
Most laryngeal cancers originate in the glottis. Supraglottic cancers are less common, and subglottic tumours are least frequent.
Laryngeal cancer may spread by direct extension to adjacent structures, by metastasis to regional cervical lymph nodes, or more distantly, through the blood stream. Distant metastases to the lung are most common. In 2018 it occurred in 177,000 people resulting in 94,800 deaths up from 76,000 deaths in 1990. Five year survival rates in the United States are 60.3%.