An estimated 10,000 cases of laryngeal cancer are diagnosed each year, and close to 3,800 people die in the United States each year because of this disease. Fortunately, vocal cord cancer can be treated effectively if it is diagnosed early.
A growth on the vocal cords, which
Most vocal cord cancers occur in patients with smoking histories, though it may also occur in non-smokers. Alcohol is another important risk factor for head and neck cancers, and reflux may contribute as well.
Symptoms of vocal cord cancer may include:
- Hoarseness which gets progressively worse without periods of improvement
- Difficulty swallowing
- Coughing (sometimes with blood)
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
Diagnosing Vocal Cord Cancer
Upon examination, the doctor will be able to see the growth on the vocal cords. A biopsy will confirm the presence of cancerous cells.
Vocal Cord Cancer Treatment
The goal of treatment is to remove the cancerous growth from the voice box. The treatment method will often vary depending on the location and size of the tumor. For early vocal cord cancers, options generally include:
- Traditional surgery – This seeks to completely remove the cancerous growth and also remove a margin of normal tissue from around the tumor.
- Radiation therapy – This will affect both vocal cords, and depending on tumor size and location, it may not be ideal for a patient with cancer on only one side.
- Photoangiolytic surgery – This emerging treatment uses the KTP laser to remove the tumor layer by layer, preserving voice by saving as much of the adjacent vocal cord tissue as possible. Dr. Lee Akst is one of only a few doctors in the nation offering treatment of vocal cord cancer by KTP laser.
Make an Appointment
Contact the Johns Hopkins Voice Center by calling 443-997-6467 (443-997-OHNS).