Voice following radiotherapy

Laryngoscope. 1975 Apr;85(4):608-18. doi: 10.1288/00005537-197504000-00002.


This study was undertaken to provide information on the voice of patients following radiotherapy for glottic cancer. Part I presents findings from questionnaires returned by 227 of 235 patients successfully irradiated for glottic cancer from 1960 through 1971. Part II presents preliminary findings on the speaking fundamental frequencies of 22 irradiated patients. Normal to near-normal voice was reported by 83 percent of the 227 patients; however, 80 percent did indicate persisting vocal difficulties such as fatiguing of voice with much usage, inability to sing, reduced loudness, hoarse voice quality and inability to shout. Amount of talking during treatments appeared to affect length of time for voice to recover following treatments in those cases where it took from nine to 26 weeks; also, with increasing years since treatment, patients rated their voices more favorably. Smoking habits following treatments improved significantly with only 27 percent smoking heavily as compared with 65 percent prior to radiation therapy. No correlation was found between smoking (during or after treatments) and vocal ratings or between smoking and length of time for voice to recover. There was no relationship found between reported vocal ratings and stage of the disease. Data on mean speaking fundamental frequency seem to indicate a trend toward lower frequencies in irradiated patients as compared with normals. A trend was also noted in both irradidated and control groups for lower speaking fundamental frequencies in heavy smokers compared with non-smokers or previous smokers. These trends would indicate some vocal cord thickening or edema in irradiated patients and in heavy smokers. It is suggested that the study of irradiated patients' voices before, during and following treatments by means of audio, aerodynamic and acoustic instrumentation would yield additional information of diagnostic value on recovery of laryngeal function. It is also suggested that the voice pathologist could assist in evaluating and guiding patients in vocal usages during and following treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Edema
  • Fatigue
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Larynx / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Radiation Effects*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Smoking
  • Time Factors
  • Vocal Cords
  • Voice / radiation effects*
  • Voice Training