Doctors used a new laser technique that allowed them to remove cancer from the vocal cords without harming the voice of the patient.
Dr. H. Steven Sims, a physician, assistant professor of otolaryngology and director of UIC's Chicago Institute for Voice Care used photodynamic therapy, a new procedure that uses light to destroy cancer, removed the cancer from around patient Sammie Bush's vocal folds without affecting his ability to use his voice.
Dr Sims said that photodynamic therapy has been used in other contexts, but its use to treat cancers of the throat is recent.
"Most importantly, the sensitivity of the voice box to other cancer treatments makes this treatment option particularly significant," he said.
The patient was given a light-activated drug intravenously, which was taken up by all cells,
Bush immediately became photosensitive, or very vulnerable to sunlight, and had to take precautions against the sun.
"In two days, the normal cells will have cleared the drug, but the cancerous cells will still carry it," said Sims.
"When we applied laser light of a specific wavelength through a thin, lighted tube, called a laryngoscope, causing a biochemical reaction in the cancerous cells that have retained the drug." The cells disintegrated harmlessly in a few days.
"Best of all, normal tissues around the malignancies are left undamaged.
"For patients who may use their voices professionally, this surgery can also mean that they can get back to work with minimal retraining and loss of time," he added.
ancer treatments often require repeated visits over a period of weeks or months, along with multiple procedures "which can be debilitating and costs which can be crippling," said Sims.
"That isn't necessary for patients who undergo photodynamic therapy, however. It's possible with this technique to treat the cancer in one go," he added.