Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Vocal Cord Cancer
This is a photograph of a left vocal cord cancer. With almost all cases of glottic cancer (vocal cord cancer), the presenting symptom is hoarseness. Most patients have been hoarse for months or even longer prior to seeing an otolaryngologist. Risk factors include cigarette smoke, and in some patients acid reflux.
As you can see in the picture, there is an ulcerated, irregular appearance of the left vocal cord (right side of the screen). Diagnosis is confirmed by biopsying the vocal cord. Treatment depends on the preference and experience of the diagnosing physician. In general, small lesions of the vocal cord can be treated with minimally invasive surgery, preserving an excellent voice. Access to a skilled surgeon who frequently performs this type of surgery will vary based on geography. Surgery can be performed by different means, either open or endoscopic. Endoscopic surgery using a laser is the most common for small tumors.
For larger lesions, radiation therapy can sometimes by preferable. For early vocal cord cancer, chemotherapy does not have a role, but it may for larger or disseminated lesions.
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