Tumors of the Mouth and Voice Box

Both the mouth and voice box are crucial for speech; therefore, the presence of a tumor makes speech more difficult. When you are talking, you are focused on getting out what you have to say. You typically don’t think about how the mouth and tongue work together to produce the words you’re speaking. Voice originates from the voice box or what we know as the larynx. The larynx is where the vocal cords are located. Once air hits those cords, they vibrate and with the help of the tongue and mouth, you produce sound. Tumors of the mouth or voice box are serious and can affect not only your appearance and speech but also your ability to eat and breathe.

The Mouth

Tumors of the Mouth and Voice BoxThe mouth has many different parts. It includes the tongue, cheeks, lips, and teeth. It is also connected to the throat and the sinuses. Tumors in the mouth are not all cancerous. Some growths you may find in the mouth are a result of warts, yeast infections and in some cases related to repeated trauma. Keratoacanthomas is a type of benign growths that results from sun exposure. They are usually found on the lips. It is uncommon to find them anywhere else mouth related because you don’t typically get sun exposure inside your mouth. Salivary gland tumors are normally found on the cheek. They are soft mobile tumors that are unharmful and painless. You may also find a cyst that grows in the mouth. These are all considered non-cancerous tumors.

Cancerous tumors, on the other hand, cause oral cancer. Oral cancer can originate anywhere in the mouth. They can be found in the pharynx, roof of the mouth, tongue, floor of the mouth, cheek, and even sinuses. Oral cancer is serious and must be treated early for the best results. Symptoms include swelling in the mouth area, unexplained patches in the mouth along with sores in the mouth. You may also experience soreness in the throat and numbness of the mouth or face. Ear pain, hoarseness, and difficulty swallowing are a few other common symptoms.

There are risk factors associated with oral cancer. Men tend to have a higher risk of oral cancer than women. Risk factors both cigarette smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco. Dipping, chewing, or snuffing tobacco can cause cancer in the mouth, gums, and lips. Drinkers are also susceptible to oral cancer. Oral cancer is six times more likely to occur in those who drink than those who do not. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can be a precursor to oral cancer. Some strains of the virus cause the squamous cells to mutate leading to cancer. Genetics plays a part in most illnesses. If oral cancer runs in the family, you should be sure to pay close attention to any signs of cancer in your mouth.


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The Voice Box

The voice box or larynx attaches to the vocal cords. The technical name for vocal cords is glottis. Tumors can form above, on, or below the glottis. Not all of these tumors are cancerous. Some common non-cancerous tumors of the voice box include nodules, polyps, and cyst. Other tumors include fibromas (tumor of the connective tissue), hemangioma ( a group of extra blood vessels), and chondromas (tumor made of cartilage). The latter set of tumors is those typically found in the larynx.

Tumors of the Mouth and Voice BoxLarynx cancer is an uncommon form of cancer. Larynx cancer is one form of throat cancer. The larynx is divided into three regions: the supraglottic region, the glottic region, and the subglottic region. The glottic region is the vocal cords. The supraglottic region refers to the area above the vocal cords, and the subglottic region refers to the area below the vocal cords. Most cancers of the larynx are glottic. This may be due to the vocal cords being more susceptible to growths. Larynx cancer has the same risk factors as oral cancer. Again, these risk factors include smoking, drinking, genetics, and HPV. The symptoms of larynx cancer are very similar to those of oral cancer. Symptoms include hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and the feeling of a lump in your throat. Larynx cancer may also be accompanied by feeling an enlarged gland in the throat. You can also have what feels like an ongoing sore throat.

Both mouth and voice box tumors should be monitored. In most cases, these tumors are partially removed for biopsy purposes. If the biopsy shows a benign growth, no further treatment is typically necessary. If the biopsy reveals a malignant tumor, the next step is to figure out the best form of treatment. If the cancer is in its beginning stages, radiation therapy is typically the first line of defense. Radiation triggers just that one area and can make the tumor decrease in size and kill the cancer cells completely. For larger tumors in the mouth and larynx, surgery is required. Surgery is often done for mouth tumors because it can affect your ability to eat, talk, and may cause cosmetic abnormalities. Chemotherapy treats more aggressive forms of oral and larynx cancer.
Tumors are not something you want to see growing in your mouth or throat. They may cause pain, make you hoarse, or make eating very difficult. With the throat being connected to the mouth, you find similar symptoms and issues arising whenever either one forms a tumor. In many cases, tumors of the mouth and larynx are benign. They do not cause any pain or any issues. In other cases, these tumors are cancerous and need immediate treatment. If you notice any changes in your mouth or throat, speak with your doctor and get an examination. Don’t ignore even the small signs. The earlier you receive a diagnosis, the better off you will be.

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