The presence of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood of patients with metastatic breast, colorectal and prostate cancer have been widely investigated; however, few studies have examined CTCs in patients with laryngeal cancer. The present pilot study aimed to detect pre- and postoperative CTCs in the blood of patients with laryngeal cancer and evaluate the association with prognosis. Eight patients with laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma (LSCC) at stage III were included in the present study and underwent total or subtotal laryngectomy and radical bilateral neck lymph node dissection. Blood samples were collected from all patients before and after surgery at different time-points. The following processing steps were followed; preoperative blood sampling, surgery, postoperative blood sampling at 3, 6 and 12 month follow-ups, and prognostic association analysis. CTCs were retained on ScreenCell filters for cytological characterization. The presence of CTCs was associated with a less favorable prognosis, whereas a decrease of CTCs in the postoperative sampling was observed in patients who exhibited an improved therapeutic response. The results of the present pilot study revealed a possible association between the presence of CTCs and a less favorable prognosis in patients with LSCC; therefore, these preliminary findings may encourage further research into the incorporation of a liquid biopsy in the management of LSCC, as this may help identify patients with occult metastatic disease earlier and in a non-invasive manner. In addition, this approach may represent novel independent prognostic factor for use in the clinical evaluation of patients with LSCC.