Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

How is laryngeal cancer diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, the physician may carefully feel the neck to check for lumps, swelling, tenderness and other changes.

Two types of laryngoscopy may be performed:

  • Indirect laryngoscopy – a small, long-handled mirror is inserted into the throat so parts of the larynx can be examined.
  • Direct laryngoscopy – an instrument called a laryngoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth. The scope is a lighted tube, which provides a better view of the area than the indirect laryngoscopy.

A biopsy, removal of a sample of tissue to be evaluated under a microscope by a pathologist, also may be performed.

If cancerous cells are found, imaging procedures may be used to determine the extent, or stage, of the cancer.