Speech Therapy for Laryngeal Cancer

Speech Therapy for Laryngeal Cancer

Speech Therapy For Laryngeal Cancer

Speech Therapy for Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal carcinoma occurs most frequently in middle-aged or elderly men who smoke. The chief causes of cancer of the larynx are cigarette smoking and consumption of alcohol. The effect of tobacco and alcohol greatly increases the risk.

 Laryngeal cancer is classified by a system that includes information about the site and extent of the tumor, lymph node involvement and whether or not there is metastic disease. This is known as the TNM system. Your vocal folds are inside your larynx or voice box. 

When you talk, air moves from your lungs through the vocal folds to your mouth. The vocal folds vibrate to produce sound. Cancer can form on vocal folds or other parts of the larynx.


Throat discomfort followed by radiating pain to earVoice changes

Difficulty in swallowing

Respiratory problems

Hoarseness of voice

Wheezing etc.



Radiotherapy to primary site

Partial laryngectomy (surgical removal of part of the larynx)

Total laryngectomy (surgical removal of the larynx)

Speech Treatment


Speech-language pathologists, or SLPs, play an important role both before and after surgery.

The SLP will talk about larynx and how surgery will change it. Then explains the communication options after surgery with family members.

Right after surgery, the clients (person undergone surgery) will not be able to talk. The SLP gives paper and a pen or picture board to help him/her tell others what they need. During healing process the SLP will work with the client to find a new way to produce voice. 

There are three primary options:

Esophageal Speech. To do this, the SLP instructs the client to take air in mouth; trap it in throat, and then let it back out. It is like what happens when we burp. 

As the air goes out your mouth, it makes the upper parts of esophagus vibrate. Esophagus is the tube that goes from mouth to stomach. This type of speech requires a lot of practice.

Artificial Larynx. 

The SLP uses an electronics device that vibrates when turned on. The SLP puts the device against neck or puts a small tube in mouth. Many people use this type of device first and need to practice speaking clearly; initially the voice will sound mechanical.

Tracheoesophageal Puncture or TEP. 

This is a long-term way to talk after a laryngectomy. It is often done during the surgery but can happen later. The surgeon makes a hole between airway and esophagus. A small valve goes into this hole. The clients breathe air in from the hole in neck and cover the hole up. The air goes through the valve into the esophagus. The esophagus vibrates, and the clients use that to make sounds through their mouth.

Check out these links for relevant information: Speech therapy

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