Laryngeal Cancer Staging in 5 minutes

In this video, Dr. Katie Bailey walks us through cancers of the larynx and quickly describes how they are staged. This quick video will help you identify common laryngeal cancers and how to stage them.

Review of the anatomy of the larynx. The larynx consists of structures from the inferior aspect of the epiglottis down to the inferior part of the cricoid cartilage. There are three subsites, the supraglottis (between the epiglottis and the false cords), the glottis (the true vocal cords, anterior commissure, and posterior commissure), and subglottis (from the inferior vocal cords to the inferior cricoid cartilage). Key landmarks include the aryepiglottic folds, the pyriform sinus, the false cords, the true cords, the arytenoid cartilage, and the cricoid cartilage.

Laryngeal cancer staging is based on a T, N, M stage. Supraglottic cancers and glottic cancers are staged separately. For supraglottic cancers, it is important to know if the vocal cord is mobile or fixed, which can only be determined on exam. T4B tumors are unresectable because they involve adjacent structures such as the prevertebral space or carotid artery. Glottic cancers are staged based on their involvement of adjacent structures. Similarly unresectable tumors involve deep adjacent structures.

Example case 1. This case has thickening and nodularity of the right aryepiglottic fold. This is confined to the aryepiglottic fold with no involvement of adjacent structures. There are no nodes, making this a T1N0 tumor.

Example case 2. There is a subtle tumor along the anterior aspect of the right vocal cord with asymmetric hyperdensity. This is a glottic lesion involving only the right vocal cord with no nodes, consistent with a T1N0 glottic tumor.

Example case 3. This is a more dramatic mass involving the right vocal cord with erosion of the cricoid cartilage posteriorly and loss of paraglottic fat. There is supraglottic and glottic extension. This is a T3N0 lesion.

Example case 4. To see this lesion, you have to window the images pretty severely. There is hyperdensity involving the anterior commissure and both anterior vocal cords. The involvement of both vocal cords makes this a T1bN0 lesion.

Example case 5. This bulky mass extends across the anterior commissure and extends through both sides of the thyroid cartilage. Destruction of the cartilage makes this a T4a lesion. Left level 3 lymph node is abnormal, making this an N1 nodal stage.

Conclusion. Hopefully you learned from these examples of supraglottic and glottic tumors and can use some of your skills on your future cases.

Thanks for checking out this quick video on nasopharyngeal cancer staging. Be sure to tune back in for additional videos on staging of the other head and neck subsites.Also take a look at the head and neck topic page as well as all the head and neck videos on the site.


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