When detected early, these types of cancer are highly curable -- often with either surgery or radiation therapy alone. More advanced cancers are generally treated with various combinations of treatment options.
MRI and CT imaging technology pinpoints the precise location of the tumor, and then beams of high-energy X-rays destroy the cancer cells. This targeted radiation treatment, used before and/or after surgery, minimizes damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
Removes the tumor and surrounding tissues. Nearby lymph nodes may also need to be removed. Every surgery is different depending on the location and size of the tumor and whether it has spread. Our surgeons use a wide range of surgical approaches, including laser surgery, which can reduce damage to surrounding structures. Our doctors also employ robotic tools, which increase precision and allow them to remove hard-to-reach tumors.
In some cases, the entire voice box, including the vocal cords, may need to be removed. This is called a total laryngectomy.
Before surgery, your doctor will discuss the nature of your surgery, including how long your hospital stay should be, and whether you need any additional treatments besides surgery. A speech-language pathologist will educate you about what changes to expect with breathing and swallowing. They will also review communication options in detail, which may include:
- Speaking with a handheld artificial (electronic) larynx.
- Learning to speak with esophageal speech.
- Using tracheo-esophageal speech via a tracheo-esophageal puncture (TEP) procedure. This is the gold-standard of post-laryngectomy communication. Your ENT surgeon may perform TEP surgery at the same time as your laryngectomy, or it can be done later. The TEP surgery or “puncture” creates a small opening in the wall between your trachea and esophagus. Then a small voice prosthesis device is placed, which allows air to flow from your lungs into your esophagus. This air allows the esophagus to vibrate and make sound. You’ll only need to undergo surgery once, but the voice prosthesis must be changed every few months.
After surgery, your doctor will meet with you periodically to evaluate your healing and determine when it is safe for you to eat and drink.