The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital
(KATH) in Kumasi now has the expertise to perform total Laryngectomy - surgical
removal of the voice box – following the successful operation on a 63-year old
This follows the return of Dr Anna Konney to the hospital, after her
post fellowship training experience in Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology in
Dr Konney led a team of Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons to perform the
first combined surgery of total laryngectomy and neck dissection at the hospital.
The seven hour operation was performed on the 63-year-old man with
laryngeal cancer (Cancer of the voice box), which had spread to the right side of
The patient is doing very well after the surgery and has since started adjuvant
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency, at Kumasi, after the surgery, Dr
Konney said data at the Head and Neck Oncology clinic at the hospital indicates
that laryngeal cancer was the third commonest cancer in the total population of
Fifteen out of the 160 (9.4%) of patients who visited the clinic between
2004 and 2006 were found to be suffering from the disease, majority of them
She said the disease which is supposed to be common among adults
between the ages of 60-62 was, however, being detected increasingly in patients
around 50.3 years.
Dr Konney said laryngeal cancer was 6-39 times more likely in smokers
than non-smokers. Alcohol abuse was also a risk factor and the combined risk of
smoking and alcohol was even far greater.
She said patients usually present late with hoarseness, difficulty in
breathing, swallowing and a swollen neck.
Dr Konney explained that late presentation had made it difficult if not
impossible for patients to benefit from existing management modalities, adding
that, palliative care procedures such as tracheostomy (creating an artificial opening
into the trachea), placing a tube in the stomach for feeding, radiotherapy and pain
management had been usually offered to help patients.
She revealed that patients often refuse total laryngectomy treatment
mainly because of the loss of the voice following the surgery and so, few cases of
total laryngectomy had been done in the past.
Dr Konney explained that surgical management when combined with
other modalities of treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy improved
survival rate and quality of life adding that, experts were now available at KATH to
offer hope for patients.