Before confirming the diagnosis of a laryngeal cancer, your physician will ask you question related to your medical history, your lifestyle (smoking and alcohol consumption), your general health and the symptoms that you experience: earache, persistent cough, difficulty breathing, etc. These symptoms do no automatically mean that you have laryngeal cancer; they are simply indicators. Therefore, to confirm the diagnosis, your doctor will perform other medical procedures:
Laryngoscopy – the purpose of this test is to examine your throat to look for signs of tumor. During the procedure, the doctor passes a flexible, lighted tube with a lens (laryngoscope) through your nose or your mouth into the upper airway to be able to visualize the upper part of your larynx. To prevent discomfort, the laryngoscopy can be performed under anesthesia.
Chest X-ray – an x-ray is necessary to ascertain whether the tumor has spread to the lungs or not. In fact, if you have shortness of breath, persistent cough, pain in the chest or chest trauma, a chest x-ray may be the first imaging technique recommended by your doctor.
CT scan – this is an imaging technique often performed in the diagnosis of laryngeal cancer to detect abnormalities in the throat. This technique is very important in the diagnosis of laryngeal cancer; it produces precised images that help your physician to determine if the cancer is metastatic or not. However, as for x-ray, repeated exposure to CT scan can lead to major health problem.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – MRI is another imaging technique often used in the diagnosis of laryngeal cancer. It allows your doctor to visualize the tissues of your neck and detect abnormalities in your throat.
Biopsy – a biopsy is the key procedure to confirm the presence of a cancer in your larynx. It involves taking a sample of tumor tissue for laboratory analysis in search of cancer cells. The removal of the sample is done through endoscopy under general anesthesia, or through a thin needle that is inserted into your neck.