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School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins cancer experts recognize that preserving your voice is of utmost importance. Our multidisciplinary team will take into account your speech and how best to maximize it throughout your treatments here.
For example, there are many surgical options that spare your voice. With advances in laser technology and robotic surgery, it is now possible to access small tumors through the mouth. Lasers can be aimed through a small telescope, causing minimal damage to surrounding tissue. A newer operation that removes part of the voice box leaves intact one or two arytenoids – connective tissue to which the vocal cords are attached. With these structures intact, patients can still have an acceptable voice quality and are still able to swallow. Even after standard operations to remove the larynx, patients can learn to use their lungs and trachea (windpipe) to generate sound.
Some patients with larynx cancer may not need surgery at all. A national research study directed by Dr. Arlene Forastiere at Johns Hopkins has found that simultaneous treatment with chemotherapy and radiation preserved the voice of many patients with advanced larynx cancer without compromising survival rates. Patients who undergo this combined therapy are still advised to be followed closely by a head and neck surgeon, so that surgery can be performed if there is residual or recurrent cancer after treatment. Performed if there is residual or recurrent cancer after treatment.