GENERAL INFORMATION

BENIGN LARYNX/VOICE DISORDERS

SALIVARY GLANDS

THYROID and PARATHYROIDS

LARYNX CANCER

ORAL CAVITY & TONGUE CANCER

TREATMENT OF HEAD & NECK CANCERS

GENERAL INFORMATION

The larynx, otherwise known as the voice box, is located in the front of your neck. The structure commonly known as the Adam's apple is a portion of the cartilage that makes up the framework of the larynx. The most obvious function of the larynx is that it produces the sound of your voice. A less obvious function of the larynx is that it protects your airway. The vocal cords close to prevent food from choking you during swallowing.

Larynx cancer is highly associated with smoking tobacco products. Smoking places you at high risk for this type of cancer. If you have relatives that have had this type of cancer, your risk level will be even higher.

Hoarseness is often one of the earliest signs of cancer of the larynx. Hoarseness or any change in voice that is present for more than a week should be evaluated by a physician who is capable of examining the larynx, throat, and tongue in detail. Larynx cancer is extremely curable when it is caught early. It does NOT mean you will lose your larynx. Treatments have been developed that frequently allow you to achieve successful treatment with minimal or no surgery.

The physicians who examine and treat these areas are Otolaryngologists (ENT surgeons). The physicians at Berks ENT Surgical Associates are highly skilled in this form of examination.

EVALUATION OF THE LARYNX

The larynx can be readily examined in the office as part of a full Head & Neck evaluation. In order to get a detailed look at your larynx your Otolaryngologist may perform an examination using a fiberoptic laryngoscope. Anesthetic spray is used to numb up the nose. The fiberoptic scope is then passed through the nasal cavity to examine the larynx. The anesthetic spray allows this procedure to be performed with minimal discomfort to the patient.

If a tumor is identified on your larynx your surgeon will recommend an examination and biopsy of the tumor in the operating room. This is done under general anesthesia, as an outpatient procedure.

If a cancer is present, the surgeon must determine the stage of the tumor, and the exact areas of the larynx involved by the tumor. Accurate staging and tumor mapping is critical and should be done by a surgeon experienced in the assessment of Head & Neck cancers. The reason the stage and exact tumor location are important is because the stage of your tumor and its location determine the best course of treatment for you.

TREATMENT OF LARYNX CANCERS

Very early larynx cancers (Stage I) on the vocal cords can often be treated with radiation therapy alone, avoiding surgery. Larger tumors and tumors affecting areas of the larynx besides the vocal cords usually require surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or some combination of these three forms of treatment. For a detailed discussion regarding the treatment of Head & Neck cancers click here.

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