How can I learn to speak after laryngectomy?

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Laryngeal cancer and its treatment can cause problems with talking. A speech-language pathologist can assess your needs and plan therapy, which may include speech exercises.

If you need your entire larynx removed, you must learn to speak in a new way. Talking is part of nearly everything you do, so it’s natural to be scared if your larynx must be removed. Losing the ability to talk is hard. It takes practice and patience to learn new ways to speak.

Before surgery or soon after, the speech-language pathologist can describe your choices for speech:
  • Electric larynx: An electric larynx is a small device that can help you talk after your larynx has been removed. It’s powered by a battery. The electric larynx makes a humming sound like the vocal cords. Some models are used in the mouth whereas other models are placed on the neck.
  • Esophageal speech: There is no device to carry around for esophageal speech because the sound is made with air. A speech-language pathologist can teach you how to release air like a burp from the walls of your throat. It takes practice, but you can learn how to form words from the released air with the lips, tongue, and teeth.
  • Tracheoesophageal puncture: The surgeon makes a small opening between your trachea and esophagus, and a small device is placed in the opening. With practice, you can learn to speak by covering the stoma and forcing air through the device. The air makes sound by vibrating the walls of your throat.
Speech therapy will generally begin as early as possible. If you have surgery, speech therapy may continue after you leave the hospital.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.