Relationship between reflux and laryngeal cancer

Head Neck. 2013 Dec;35(12):1814-8. doi: 10.1002/hed.23208. Epub 2013 Jun 22.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or its variation known as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), has been recognized as a potential cause of several laryngeal disorders. Patients with laryngeal cancer have lifestyle risk factors, especially tobacco and alcohol consumption, that play an etiological role in the development of their cancer but also places them at risk for reflux. The question then arises whether there is merely an association or a causal relationship between laryngeal cancer and reflux. However, despite a number of studies, a causal relationship with laryngeal cancer is uncertain. In this article, we address the current literature in a critical manner to evaluate the relationship between reflux and laryngeal cancer. From the review of the literature, we conclude that there is insufficient evidence to support a causal role of reflux in laryngeal cancer, mainly because of the confounding effect of tobacco and alcohol consumption and the inaccuracies in the diagnosis of reflux.

Keywords: cancer of the larynx; etiology; gastroesophageal reflux; laryngopharyngeal reflux; risk factor for laryngeal cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Esophagitis / epidemiology
  • Gastritis / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Laryngopharyngeal Reflux / diagnosis
  • Laryngopharyngeal Reflux / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology