Light, or photodynamic, therapy can help preserve the voice and vocal cord function for patients with early stage laryngeal (voice box) cancer, according to a study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Both before and after photodynamic therapy, patients underwent videostroboscopy exams, a state-of-the-art technique that provides a magnified, slow-motion view of the vocal cords in use. The technique uses a small, angled telescope inserted through the mouth or nose to measure vocal cord vibrations while patients repeat words or sounds.
Results were analyzed by a speech language pathologist and laryngologist specializing in voice disorders for vocal cord movement and vibration.
During the first five weeks following treatment, researchers noted a significant worsening in the non-vibrating portion of the affected vocal cords, which is expected, says Dr. Somers.
Ten weeks following treatment, there was a noticeable improvement.
"In our study, patients undergoing PDT demonstrated initial significant impairment in the vocal cord vibratory parameters of mucosal wave, non-vibrating vocal cold and amplitude of vibration as well as appearance of vocal cold edge for both the tumor and non-tumor side," says Dr. Somers. "Most notably, over the course of a few weeks and months, there were consistent trends toward normal vocal cord vibration."
Patients do experience minor side effects from treatment such as photosensitivity, making them more sensitive to light and susceptible to severe sunburns. This lasts for about four weeks following the procedure. Patients also may experience temporary hoarseness.
Dr. Somers hopes future studies are aimed at a prospective comparison of photodynamic therapy to surgery and radiation and subsequent voice production results.
Source: Henry Ford Health System