Before deciding what treatment you should follow, your doctor will consider many factors: your age, health in general, and the stage of the tumor. After all, you’ll be invited to participate in the final choice of the treatment.
In general, a cancer of the larynx is treated by radiotherapy, chemotherapy or surgery. In most cases, your physician will choose a combination of these therapies.
Radiation therapy (Radiotherapy)
Radiotherapy is a form of cancer treatment using ionizing radiation to kill cancer cells. If you have an early stage laryngeal cancer (stages 1 or 2), radiation therapy may be the ideal choice; In fact, many of laryngeal cancer diagnosed early are treated solely by radiotherapy. In addition, unlike surgery, radiation therapy provides physiological advantages; it does not damage the vocal cords.
Although temporary, radiotherapy can cause side effects:
- sore throat
- voice changes
- mouth sores
- sensitivity of the mouth and gums
- dry mouth or lower production of saliva
- redness, dry skin
- loss of taste or smell.
Chemotherapy involves using powerful drugs to kill or slow down the proliferation of cancer cells. Chemotherapy is not always practiced in the treatment of laryngeal cancer; it is used if the cancer has spread into other tissue, or in case of aggressive tumor that grow quickly. Unlike radiotherapy, chemotherapy drugs circulate throughout your organism, and affect all organs in your body.
Chemotherapy always causes side effects, which may include:
- hair loss
- nausea and vomiting
- mouth sores.
If your doctor thinks surgery can be helpful, your surgeon will perform a laryngectomy; which can be total or partial. During surgery, the surgeon will remove a part or the entire larynx, and make a sort of opening (stoma) in your neck so you can breathe. This will damage your vocal cords, there are several solutions that can help you learn to speak. In fact, the majority of laryngeal cancer victims undergo a laryngectomy successfully communicate with others as before surgery.