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A cordectomy is a surgical procedure where the surgeon removes part or all of the vocal cords, often as a form of treatment for larynx cancer. Most often, this procedure is performed when the patient has a very small tumor on the glottis, also known as the vocal cords. A cordectomy can be performed either traditionally or with the assistance of a laser tool. Patients who undergo a laser procedure typically experience shorter recovery times than patients who have an open cordectomy.

What are the side effects of a cordectomy?

Like all surgical procedures, a cordectomy comes with its own set of risks and side effects. Most notably is the potential for a change in vocal capacity. The effect this procedure has on a patient’s ability to speak is directly correlated to the amount of the glottis that is removed. When only part of the vocal cords is removed, a patient will likely experience hoarseness or a loss of vocal range. Following a total cordectomy, during which all of the vocal cords are removed, the patient will likely be unable to produce most vocal sounds. However, patients almost always can speak in whispers following these procedures.

Before undergoing a cordectomy, it is important that the patient understands the side effects and how it can impact their life. Patients and their physicians should also explore different communication technologies, such as voice boxes, text-to-speak software and whisper-amplifying devices.

If you have been advised to undergo a cordectomy for larynx cancer treatment, request a consultation at Moffitt Cancer Center. Our head and neck cancer experts are highly skilled and experienced, and develop individualized treatment plans that give each patient the best chance at reaching a favorable outcome and improved quality of life. To request a consultation at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.