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16.03.2009 Health

KATH performs first Laryngectomy and neck dissection.

By gna

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

South Africa.
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 neck.
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.