Compiled by BioPhotonics staff
DETROIT – Early-stage laryngeal cancer typically is treated
with radiation therapy alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy. However,
a new study at the Henry Ford Hospital has found that photodynamic therapy could
be an effective alternative treatment method that preserves the voice and vocal
Because more than 10,000 people annually are diagnosed with laryngeal
cancer in the US, researchers have sought less invasive options that have fewer
side effects, yet also preserve the ability to talk. In photodynamic therapy, a
laser is used to activate a nontoxic drug called Photofrin, which causes a reaction
in the cancer cells that destroys the tumor tissue without harming the surrounding
The method does not damage any underlying tissue, so it is safe
for multiple treatments, and it can be given before or after other therapies, and
when radiation therapy fails. More than 200 procedures have been conducted at Henry
The recent study followed 10 patients with early-stage squamous
cell tumors of the larynx who were treated with light therapy. To assess how well
vocal cords moved after the therapy, each patient’s larynx was examined using
videostroboscopy, a technique that provides a magnified, slow-motion view of the
vocal cords in use.
During the five weeks following the treatment, the researchers
found a significant worsening in the nonvibrating portion of the affected vocal
cords. However, 10 weeks after treatment, improvement was significant.
The investigators noted that in the weeks and months after treatment,
there were consistent trends toward normal vocal cord vibration.
There is currently no consensus as to which treatment –
surgery, radiation therapy or photodynamic therapy – offers the best outcome
in terms of voice preservation. The researchers plan to investigate the topic further.