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Is the removal of the vocal cord necessary?

Q: My father, aged 75 years, is suffering from hoarseness of voice since last one year. The ENT doctor advised biopsy. The report came yesterday. It says Squamous Cell Carcinoma, well to moderately differentiated, right vocal cord. The doctor said that immediate removal of the voice box is very much necessary. What should we do? Is there any alternate for not removing the voice box? Can we save the voice box? Can we save the left vocal cord which is not affected?

A:The treatment for cancers of the voice box depends on a number of factors. The type of cancer, the extent of the disease (how much of the vocal cords are affected and spread to the rest of the voice box), if there are any glands in the neck, the findings on CT scanning, the health of the patient, etc. Options include surgery (Surgery can be of different types - total or partial removal), radiotherapy (with or without chemotherapy) or a combination therapy. It is impossible to advise the right option without all the information. Consult an ENT surgeon who deals with head and neck cancers and is in a centre where there are facilities for all modalities of treatment.

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