Vocal Cord paralysis

My Dad has NSCLC Stage 3b. Has anyone had any problems with their vocal cord being affected from lung cancer?? Vocal cord paralysis was one of the first things affected for my Dad. He has had it injected twice and now after radiation it seems like its going back to being paralyzed again. Anybody with vocal cord issues that has lung cancer??

Edited July 10, 2008 at 1:12 pm

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Hi there. My mom was diagnosed with stage 3a/b NSCLC in Sep 2006. Her first and only sign was a change in her voice. After much harrassment from ME, she saw a doctor, who diagnosed vocal chord paralysis and suspected lung cancer. After all the scans etc they confirmed lung cancer. She had a fist-sized tumor in her left lung, which had spread to the lymph nodes in her chest. The enlarged lymph nodes were pressing on the recurrent laryngeal nerve (which runs through the chest), which caused the chord paralysis. Once she had chemo and radiation, the nodes returned to normal size and her voice normalized. I think it took a few months. She is still with us today, and her voice has been fine since. I hope that helps. you & Dad take care

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Unfortunately when vocal cord paralysis first presented in 2006 nothing showed up on Cat Scan's and nothing came of his bronchoscopy at the time. Now this past January when his vocal cord became paralyzed AGAIN a mass showed up in mediastinum on the Cat Scan of his lungs. So on we go. Thanks for reply lookingforinput.

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My mom had an extremely rough journey with her Stage IV NSCLC last Fall that eventually involved two paralyzed vocal chords. Her very first LC symptom was a sore throat, and at dignosis, she had a relatively small tumor in one lung with mets to her mediastinum and mets to the brain. About 1.5 months into her diagnosis, her voice started to change. About a month before she died, they determined that both of her vocal chords were paralyzed, and this was probably caused by a tumor pressing against the nerve that controls the vocal chords. What many people don't realize is that the vocal chords aren't just about speaking, but they help us to breathe as well. If only one chord is paralyzed, there's hope, but if both are paralyzed, the only hope is that they're not too damaged to be repaired y therapy. Too much pressure, from something like a tumor, and they're irreparable.
In my mother's case, they tried radiating the tumor that was causing the problems. Sadly, she was unresponsive to radiation (she had a rough journey all around) and eventually, she needed a tracheotomy to be able to breathe, bypassing the dysfunctional collapsed vocal cords.
At this point, I would definitely ask what the cause of the paralysis is. Is it a tumor? If so, can it be radiated to relieve the pressure before permanent damage is done? His vocal chord paralysis might not have the same origin as my mother's (a tumor) , but that would be my advice at the moment. You definitely want to get on top of it before it's too late.
Just as a side note, when my mother had a persistent sore throat that eventually led to her inability to swallow, the doctors kept saying they didn't know why. Frankly, in my opinion, it didn't take a brain surgeon (or thoracic oncologist) to figure out that it was a tumor causing some kind of obstruction, and I mentioned this several times, but they never offered to radiate, and being new to LC at the time, I didn't think to question the docs. Ultimately, my mother was resistant to radiation, as I mentioned before, so it wouldn't have done any good anyway, but if she hadn't been resistant and they'd started before the paralysis got so bad and her esophagus closed up to the point that she needed a feeding tube (not related to the vocal cord issue), perhaps quality of life could have been extended and these horrible side effects could have been avoided, or at least postponed.
Those are my thoughts, and my basic "takeaway" from my experience is that if you have a strong feeling about something that's wrong with your dad and you want the doctors to look into it further, don't be afraid to to speak up. Yell, scream, protest, bring facts and figures. But this is your dad's only life, and you're one of his best advocates, so don't stop fighting!
My heart goes out to you and your family. Some days I forget what a struggle it was dealing with all of the land mines that came our way during my mother's short, ravaging, three month battle with her disease. I know it's overwhelming, but you're doing the very best a daughter can do and I'm sure your Dad appreciates all of the love and support you're giving him.
Strength and love,

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Vocal cords become involved because the left laryngial nerve wraps around the mediastinal nodes. If they are enlarged or biopsied, the nerve can be injured. The vocal cords nerves are very sensitive and once injured, will not heal. But, you can get your voice back. My wife has gone through this and there is a simple procedure. They can inject material in the right vocal cord which will expand it so that it once again converges witht he left. The voice is almost fully restored! You need to consult a good ENT.

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Thanks for the replies. My Dad has in fact had TWO vocal cord injections. This last one was May and his voice came back instantly, but unfortunately with radiation his voice is slowly progressing back to what it was before injecting it with steroid etc. Only one vocal cord is paralyzed/affected and it is due to the tumor pressing on the nerve.

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YES!! my mother has a paralyzed vocal card and we found out that it is paralyzed because she has lung cancer stage3B and the cancer has jumped to the chest area and it is pushing on the vocal cord nerve. the vocal cord nerve runs from the brain,down the neck,chest,aorta,and back up to the head. Please follow up with his doc ASAP
god bless

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Sometimes these boards are confusing. I need to say that my Dad has already been staged and is being treated. I was only wondering/wanting to know if anyone else out there had any experience and what came of it. Thanks for everyones input though.

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My father had the same trouble. It took forever to find out why his lung kept getting infected and finally, FINALLY a wonderful ear, nose, and throat doctor here in Memphis figured it out. Somehow, dad's vocal cord had become paralyzed (I suspect it was weakened by the radiation 3 years prior and eventually just gave out) and because of the separation between the cords, food and water were getting into his only lung (he'd had his left lung removed 5 years prior). When they first found the aspirating, the initial recommendation was to put him on a feeding tube. My father absolutely went berserk and refused. Then a wonderful EN&T doctor put all of the puzzle pieces together and immediately recommended the fat injection for the next day. It was a very easy procedure of removing fat from his belly and injecting it into the vocal cord. His voice, which had been raspy for months, returned instantly and he was able to eat and drink without aspirating and his breathing improved.

I wish the doctors had figured everything out sooner. All of my father's issues were related - the lung infections, the breathing, the raspy voice, and the swallowing/aspirating. Unfortunately, his lung was too damaged and he had gone too long without chemo (he was off of it due to the lung infection). The tumor eventually blocked off the main airway to his only lung and he left us last year. Don't let this discourage you. Before the infections started last February, my father was beating the cancer again - for the third time. The tumor was shrinking while on the chemo. If only we had figured out what was causing those infections early on, I believe my father would have beat this monster again.

I hope your dad finds some relief. Best of luck.


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my husband 's vocal's are gone he has a lot of trouble to talkand now is having trouble with his hearing when when thisstarted and he was in a semi accident there was a problem with voice we went to a family doctor and hear sent us to a e.n.t and then bi-op and now 6- month later he still don't have his voice back. he has small cell lung cancer. he is on he 6th cemo treatment and done with 6weeks of radiation. now the doctor want to do some radition on his brain. as a precaution by the tumor he had went from 6 cm to 1/2 cm so something is working, hope he will get his voice and some of his health back. also that peg tube feeding thing out thats how back he got. hopefully time will be good to all of use. and thing will got better.

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