UAE: Voice change may be symptom of cancer, warns doctor

Seek medical intervention if changes last longer than two weeks

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By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sat 25 Jun 2022, 1:09 PM

Last updated: Sat 25 Jun 2022, 10:38 PM

A change in your voice for over two weeks may be a serious cause for concern, warns a doctor in the UAE.

Dr Masoud Kazemi, Laryngology Fellowship, ENT surgeon, Canadian Specialists Hospital Dubai, warns that a change in a person's voice must be medically evaluated, especially if they are a smoker. The larynx must be carefully examined and photographed in such cases.

"If the person has a developing tumour, it can be diagnosed early. In the early stage, the tumour can be removed with the help of a laser and through the mouth without cutting the skin and preserving the patient's larynx and voice," said the surgeon.

Okhiria Violet Azeke, an experienced Nigerian nurse, was treated for the symptom two years ago but failed to follow up because she was afraid she had Covid-19. However, she came to Dr Kazemi last month after she suffered from severe shortness of breath.

When Dr Kazemi performed a tracheotomy, he found a tumour, eventually diagnosed as a stage 4-A squamous cell carcinoma, was restricting her breathing.

"In the new evaluation and examination of the larynx, involvement of both sides of the larynx and immobility of the vocal folds were seen, along with the involvement of the lymph nodes around the voice box. There were no signs of the tumour spreading to other parts of the body," he said.

"At this stage, due to the patient's young age, our goal was to achieve complete recovery by completely eradicating the tumour and its roots."

"There were other problems, such as high blood sugar, hypertension, and anaemia, but the main challenge was that the patient was not allowed to transfuse blood with haemoglobin 10," explained Dr Kazemi.

Azeke quickly agreed to surgery to remove the tumour and was wheeled into the operating room at 8am on June 18. Doctors and anaesthetic staff made several arrangements to limit blood loss in the critical case.

"Tissue adhesion was very high due to previous tracheotomy surgery, but fortunately, we did not encounter any unusual problems, the bleeding was minor, and we did not have a blood transfusion," said Dr Kazemi.

"The entire larynx, half part of the throat, half of the thyroid gland, and the surrounding lymph nodes had to be removed."


Azeke was transferred to the ICU after a five-hour procedure and was fully conscious after 48 hours. Dr Kazemi said she recovered well.

"Her vital signs were under control, she had no breathing problems and no bleeding, and her blood sugar was kept at an acceptable level."

Azeke is currently being fed through a nasal tube for two weeks until the wound completely heals.

Dr Kazemi reiterated that there are specific recommendations for early detection of cancers anywhere in the body, such as periodic self-exams for breast cancer and changes in the appearance of moles for melanoma skin cancer. However, voice changes are one of the first symptoms in laryngeal tumours.


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