Laryngeal cancer can present with a number of symptoms including hoarseness, voice change, or shortness of breath. Advanced laryngeal cancer may cause problems swallowing, neck masses or even ear pain. Tobacco and alcohol use are risk factors for laryngeal cancer. The most common type of laryngeal cancer is squamous cell cancer.
Laryngeal cancer is diagnosed by laryngoscopy performed in the office. Some laryngeal cancers which are small may not be noticed on CTs or MRIs. If a mass is seen during laryngoscopy, a biopsy can be performed in the office or in the operating room. This procedure provides tissue which is analyzed for analysis.
Laryngeal cancer treatment can be treated surgically, non-surgically with radiation therapy and chemotherapy, or a combination of both. Treatment decisions are tailored based on the size and location of a tumor.
Lasers, including carbon dioxide and KTP lasers, may be used to perform minimally invasive surgery for laryngeal cancer. Treatment for many tumors can be performed entirely through the mouth. While patients are asleep a laryngoscopy is performed and the tumor is removed using a small laser. For disease limited to the vocal folds, no external cuts on the skin are needed and patients are often able to go home soon after surgery.
Some cancers require larger surgeries where part of the vocal fold is removed using a cut on the skin. The normal vocal fold anatomy can be restored with intricate muscle flaps to assist in preserving voice.
A total laryngectomy may be needed for select cancers. In this surgery the voice box is removed and the throat is recreated to allow for normal swallowing. While patients are not able to phonate normally, there are now numerous ways in which patients can produce speech which is intelligible.
It is important that patients with laryngeal cancer visit an experienced surgeon. Dr. Sunil Verma is very experienced in treating patients with laryngeal cancer and UC Irvine Hospital offers the latest technology available to best treat patients.
If you have questions for Dr. Verma about laryngeal cancer, please call 714.456.7017.