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Throat cancer patients could get their voices back with new procedure

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

Researchers from the National University of Singapore's Department of Medical Engineering and Raffles Hospital say that, by cutting a small hole in the throat, they can restore the speech of patients whose voice boxes were lost sometime after blood tests showed that they had throat cancer.

The procedure is similar to a tracheostomy, which involves inserting a rubber tube and a prosthesis into a new opening in the throat. After a tracheostomy, two weeks must pass before the ability to talk returns to patients who undergo this procedure. However, researchers say this new innovation for people who received bad results from blood tests for throat cancer gives them their voices back almost instantly.

"Our system ensures an immediate snug fit of the prosthesis in the passageway created between the trachea and the esophagus," said project leader Chui Chee Kiong. "Until now, this can take some trial and error to achieve good sizing of the prosthesis."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that more than 30,000 new instances of mouth and throat cancer are reported each year. The five-year survival rate for this type of cancer is only about 50 percent.

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