Laryngeal Cancer: Facts & Figures

Incidence in Minnesota:

Laryngeal cancer has decreased for men in Minnesota

Laryngeal cancer has been decreasing in Minnesota males since 1988, likely due to significant declines in tobacco use among males over time. Incidence rates have remained stable among women. Currently, laryngeal cancer is about four times as common in males as in females, compared to eight times more common in males in 1988.

Incidence rates are highest among American Indians and African Americans, but rates are based on small numbers. Incidence rates of laryngeal cancer in Minnesota are about 20% lower than national rates, which have also been declining. From 2011 to 2013, approximately 142 new cases of laryngeal cancer in males and 37 new cases in females were diagnosed in Minnesota residents each year.

Laryngeal cancer in Minnesota

Age-adjusted rates of new laryngeal cancer cases.
Age-adjusted rates of new laryngeal cancer cases.

Incidence rates for females have been relatively stable since 1988 while the rate among males has been decreasing by 2% per year since 1988. Despite this decrease, the rate of laryngeal cancer remains higher among males than females. Most recently, the age-adjusted incidence rate of laryngeal cancer was 4.8 new cases per 100,000 males and 1.2 new cases per 100,000 females.

Laryngeal cancer in Minnesota, by age

Rates of new laryngeal cancer cases,  aggregated from 2004 to 2013.
Rates of new laryngeal cancer cases,  aggregated from 2004 to 2013.

The rate of laryngeal cancer increases with age until ages 75-79 among males and until ages 65-69 among females.

What is laryngeal cancer?

Laryngeal cancer is cancer that starts in the larynx (voice box). The larynx is not only responsible for speech but also protects the airway (trachea and lungs) from food and liquid that we swallow.

What are risk factors for laryngeal cancer?

Like many cancers, tobacco use and heavy alcohol use increase the risk of laryngeal cancer. Smoking and drinking together dramatically increase risk.

  • Smoking: Smokers have a ten-fold greater risk of developing laryngeal cancer compared to nonsmokers.
  • Heavy alcohol consumption: Heavy drinkers have a two to five times greater risk of laryngeal cancer than nondrinkers.
  • Long-term exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), also known as secondhand smoke, may increase the risk for laryngeal cancer and other cancers of the head and neck.
  • Occupational exposures: Long term and intense occupational exposure to asbestos, nickel, wood dust, paint fumes and possibly other chemicals appears to increase risk.
  • Race: African Americans, and in Minnesota, American Indians, have a higher rate of laryngeal cancer than non-Hispanic whites.

How can laryngeal cancer be prevented?

Don't smoke. Avoid inhaling tobacco smoke from others. Don't drink heavily. Avoid known occupational exposures that increase the risk of laryngeal cancer with long-term, intense doses.