Adam’s Apple Off Center (Why Is One Side Bigger & Could It Be Cancer?)

The left and right sides of your body aren’t always proportionate and can slightly differ. While this could be the case in your Adam’s apple, you shouldn’t stop exploring other possibilities as well, particularly if you’re experiencing pain. Pain, and difficulties in breathing, speaking, and swallowing are most often associated with medical conditions such as Pharyngitis and Epiglottitis. Sometimes, tilting your Adam’s apple to a certain side could also be a sign of cancerous tumors that distort its position. In such cancers, you’ll experience symptoms like swelling of your neck and trouble breathing and swallowing. While procedures like tracheal shaving may exist in altering the size of your Adam’s apple, conditions such as cancer require surgery and chemotherapy.

The Adam’s apple is common to everyone, and it plays the function of protecting the vocal cords located right behind it.

However, when it comes to biological males, the Adam’s apple sticks out in front of the throat, while it doesn’t grow out as much in biological females.

While it’s completely fine not to have your Adam’s apple positioned in perfect symmetry, it’s safer to watch out for any symptoms you may experience along with such asymmetry.

Why is one side of my Adam’s apple bigger than the other? Can cancer cause an off-centered Adam’s apple? What are the symptoms of Thyroid cancer and Laryngeal cancer?

Are there medical conditions associated with the Adam’s apple apart from cancer? Can you fix an off-centered Adam’s apple?

Why is one side of your Adam’s apple bigger than the other?

A man is touching his Adam's apple, noticing that one side seems to be bigger than the other.

Our bodies aren’t wholly perfect and asymmetrical.

One of our legs or arms may seem longer than the other, but that doesn’t usually mean that there’s something wrong with your body.

Similarly, the Adam’s apple too can have some abnormalities in its position and might be slanted to the left or right side. This alone is nothing to panic about.

The Adam’s apple or the larynx has three main functions: breathing, aiding in speech, and swallowing.

Although your Adam’s apple is off-center, if it still performs these 3 functions perfectly, then this unusual positioning is normal and nothing to be too wary of.

However, if you experience any difficulties in breathing, speech, or swallowing because of your larynx, you might have an underlying medical condition affecting your Adam’s apple.

In such an instance, you’d need to seek an ENT specialist to determine the cause.

Can cancer cause an off-center Adam’s apple?

Tumors within the thyroid gland or the larynx itself can create an asymmetry in the positioning of your Adam’s apple if the tumor is large enough.

When a tumor grows, it can push on and impact the shape of the usually symmetrical cartilage.

Such tumors can be both malignant and benign. If they end up being benign, treatment is less likely since it rarely causes problems. Most such tumors can be treated with a single clean surgery.

However, if it turns out to be a malignant tumor, the situation could be more dangerous.

Two kinds of cancers can cause the Adam’s apple to appear asymmetrical. Firstly, thyroid cancer, and secondly, laryngeal cancer.

It’s important to remember that thyroid cancers are quite rare, and the difficulty in identifying such tumors at an early stage may lead to a misdiagnosis.

A 2019 study showed a case where the chondroma of laryngeal cartilage was misdiagnosed as a thyroid tumor, eventually resulting in the patient’s death due to improper treatment.

Therefore, the best way to identify if your off-center Adam’s apple is harmless or not is by paying attention to any other symptoms, especially concerning speech, swallowing, and breathing.

Seeking a specialist in diagnosing such health conditions is equally important.

Other symptoms of thyroid cancer and laryngeal cancer

Thyroid cancer affects the thyroid gland, a tiny gland that secretes hormones at the base of your neck, while laryngeal cancer occurs when cancer cells get created within the tissues of your larynx.

Both cancers can distort the symmetrical position of your Adam’s apple.

Identifying the symptoms of both, as given in the below table, will help you realize if your off-center Adam’s apple is harmless or dangerous.

Thyroid cancer symptomsLaryngeal cancer symptoms
Swelling of the neckA lump forming in your neck that can grow.
Pain in the front of the neck that radiates upwards to your earsSharp pain when swallowing or difficulty in swallowing
Trouble swallowing and difficulty in breathingBreathlessness
A consistent cough that doesn’t go down and isn’t related to a coldAggravated wheezing noise that can be heard when you breathe
Hoarseness in your voiceChanges in your voice

What other medical conditions relating to Adam’s apple can you have?

Pain in your Adam’s apple can be associated with other medical conditions besides cancer. The most common causes are listed below.

  1. Viral throat infection – Much like the common cold, a viral throat infection can cause pain when swallowing and talking. In addition, throat irritation, cold symptoms, swollen tonsils, fever, and body aches can also be expected.
  2. Pharyngitis – According to a 2018 study, symptoms of Pharyngitis have been commonly associated with a sore throat and excessive pain in swallowing, which can feel as if your Adam’s apple is in pain. 
  3. Epiglottitis – The epiglottis is a tiny cartilaginous structure that covers your windpipe. When facing this medical condition, this cartilage swells up and blocks the airflow into your lungs. This can be life-threatening, so if you experience difficulty breathing, you’ll need immediate medical assistance.
  4. Fungal esophageal infection – This is a yeast infection that occurs along the mucus membrane lining of your mouth and tongue. However, it can spread to the esophagus and trigger complications in your Adam’s apple, such as pain when swallowing.
  5. GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, occurs when your stomach acid flows up into your esophagus. It can cause painful symptoms like heartburn, burning sensations in your throat, and difficulty swallowing.

Can you fix an off-centered Adam’s apple?

An Otolaryngologist is checking his male patients Adam's apple

While the positioning of your Adam’s apple is decided according to your very own genetic build, there are certain surgical options for you to take if you need to enhance or reduce the size of your Adam’s apple.

One such procedure is known as chondrolaryngoplasty or, in simple terms, a tracheal shave. This procedure is most popular among trans women who need to get rid of the Adam’s apple to appear more feminine.

During this surgery, the thyroid cartilage is discarded from the front of the larynx. The primary purpose of this cartilage is to protect our vocal cords from any strain, so this surgery is not without risks.

Permanent voice alteration is one such risk in the procedure if too much thyroid cartilage is removed.

You can also expect post-operative side effects such as temporary pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty swallowing.

However, rest and carrying out a cold compress treatment at home would help soothe this discomfort in no time.

Conclusion

In a study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine, the asymmetry of the Adam’s apple was investigated among 50 individuals. 

It revealed that the laryngeal framework was asymmetric to either a greater or lesser extent in all the larynges of the 50 volunteers.

This goes to prove that as long as you’re not experiencing any discomfort associated with your off-centered Adam’s apple, there’s nothing for you to be concerned about.

But it goes without saying that being cautious about your bodily changes will benefit you in identifying a health condition at an early stage itself.

You can never be too careful!

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