Early Vocal Fold Cancer (cancer of the voice box) is characterized by an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells that form a malignant tumor. In some cases, the tumor can invade other tissues or spread (metastasize).
Risk Factors of Early Vocal Fold Cancer
Risk factors include chronic exposure to carcinogens, such as cigarette smoking. In cases of early vocal fold cancer, many patients are current or former smokers.
Early Vocal Fold Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms may include hoarseness/raspiness, rough voice quality, “lump” sensation in the throat, throat pain, painful or difficulty swallowing, and/or ear pain. If you experience voice changes that last more than 2 weeks, it is important to schedule an appointment with your laryngologist or otolaryngologist, which could lead to early detection of laryngeal cancer. Early, small cancers of the larynx are usually very curable.
Diagnosis of Early Vocal Fold Cancer
Diagnosis of early vocal fold cancer requires an evaluation with one of our otolaryngologists or laryngologists. We use cutting-edge diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your voice disorder and to develop your plan of care. Following a thorough discussion of your symptoms and medical history, be expected to undergo the following assessments:
Video Laryngostroboscopy: Using a small camera inserted through the nose or mouth, our specialists are able to assess the health and function of your larynx (voice box) and determine the presence of any vocal fold growths or abnormalities characteristic of early vocal fold cancer.
If a suspicious mass is found during the exam, you will be scheduled for a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Additional workup may include CT scans, MRI scans or PET scans to determine size of the cancer and to determine if the cancer has spread, which helps your doctor determine the “stage” of your cancer.
Early Vocal Fold Cancer Treatment
Treatment varies depending on the stage of the cancer. Early vocal fold cancer is highly treatable and is often treated with surgery or radiation. If you have a more advanced stage cancer, multiple treatments may be recommended including surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy.