Cancer of the larynx is one of the most commonly diagnosed head and neck cancers. Each year in the United States, between 10,000 and 12,000 new cases emerge. One of those cases was 72-year-old Jerry Young.
In this video, Young recounts his story of discovering he had a small squamous cell carcinoma on his vocal cord and the path that led him to the Stanford Voice and Swallowing Center. There Young learned he was a candidate for a surgery that could preserve his ability to speak without any kind of mechanical equipment inserted in his neck. According to a hospital release:
In a surgery done only at a few medical centers in the U.S., [Edward J. Damrose, MD,] removed the part of Young’s larynx where the cancer lay. Then he closed the gap by connecting the two main supports of the larynx, the cricoid cartilage and the hyoid bone. Instead of air vibrating through the muscular vocal cords, it vibrates with the help of cartilage, allowing a human voice instead of a robotic one to say the words that form Young’s life. The procedure is called a supracricoid laryngectomy with cricohyoidoepiglottopexy. Young’s surgery was one of just a dozen times in the last year that Damrose, one of the nation’s few experts in the procedure, performed at Stanford Hospital & Clinics.