, Volume 268, Issue 10, pp 1407-1419
Date: 26 Jun 2011

Management of total laryngectomy patients over time: from the consultation announcing the diagnosis to long term follow-up

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Throat cancer has always struck people’s imagination. This type of cancer affects some of the patient’s most essential physiological functions: speaking, swallowing and breathing. At advanced stages, radical surgery is disabling. The impact of a mutilated larynx corresponds to a very real trauma that is both individual and social. Our aim is to define how a total laryngectomy (TL) is represented by both the surgeon and the patient. The history of TL makes it possible to understand the changes that were needed for the key players in the subject to impose or accept this operation. Without doubt, the implementation of the “cancer plan” in the early 2000s was a major turning point in the management of patients with neoplasia. Increased awareness among the elite, encouraged by the mobilisation of patients and their families, is the explanation for the new role played by TL in 2008. The progress made in medical and surgical techniques, modifications to the patient–carer relationship and the appearance of the concept of Quality of Life are all themes that have changed the approach to this operation and the management of patients undergoing a TL.