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Statistics And Causes Of Throat Cancer

Statistics and causes of throat cancer are discussed here; in the US the majority of throat cancer is cancer of the larynx.

About 2/3 are affecting the vocal cords (cancer of the larynx) and 1/3 affects the supraglottic area. However, as the following table shows, there are significant geographic changes with respect to the site distribution of the various types of throat cancer (Ref.1, modified from p. 631).

There is a strong bias towards men, as of the 12,500 new throat cancer cases in 1994 in the US over 10,000 men were affected. The ratio seems to be at about 4.5:1 of men to women. The peak occurrence of throat cancer is between 50 and 60 years of age.

Geographic location influences throat cancer type:

Country: supraglottic(%): larynx(%): subglottic(%):
USA 34 65 1
Japan 49 50 0.9
Finland 67 32 1


There is a consistent link between throat cancer and smoking (pipe, cigarettes or cigar) and there is a further association to heavy alcohol use.

Statistics And Causes Of Throat Cancer

Statistics And Causes Of Throat Cancer

The use of self hypnosis cassettes, possibly in combination with Nicoderm or Nicorette (to quit smoking), could safe many of these throat cancers. Other contributing factors are chronic voice abuse, chronic inflammation of the vocal cords (=chronic laryngitis), exposure to asbestos, nitrogen mustard, wood dust and ionizing radiation. Acid reflux from the stomach can also lead to throat cancer, likely because of aspiration of acid into the upper airways leading to chronic inflammation of the vocal cords, which finally turns into cancer (Ref.1 and 2).



1. Cancer: Principles &Practice of Oncology.4th edition. Edited by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott, Philadelphia,PA, 1993. Chapter on Tumors of the Larynx and Hypopharynx.

2. Cancer: Principles&Practice of Oncology. 5th edition, volume 1. Edited by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott-Raven Publ., Philadelphia,PA, 1997. Chapter on Tumors of the Larynx and Hypopharynx.

3. SM Jackson et al. Radiother Oncol 2001 May;59(2):219-220.

4. Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

5. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc

Last modified: October 21, 2014

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.