Friday, October 29, 2010

Radiation Therapy and Hoarseness

Radiation therapy cures cancer in many cases, but is a gift that keeps on giving.  The changes seen in the picture above are representative of your typical larynx after radiotherapy.  The blood vessels become disordered with vascular ectasias, seen on the middle portion of both vocal cords.  The surface appears dry, and invariable there is some degree of loss of softness of the vocal cords leading to a deeper or more hoarse vocal quality.  Hoarseness after radiation therapy should be evaluated.  In some cases, there is another concurrent problem (vocal cord polyp, vocal cord paralysis, and others).  If no other problem is identified treatment consists of voice therapy and hydration.  Once the softness of the vocal cords is lost we have no way of restoring it at this time.

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