If you or someone you know has symptoms of throat cancer, you may find yourself wondering how a voice box biopsy is performed. A biopsy is a procedure where doctors remove a small sample of tissue to test it for cancer. There are a couple different ways to do this. A voice box biopsy is performed either endoscopically or through the use of fine needle aspiration.
Endoscopic Biopsy Endoscopic surgeries are minimally invasive procedures in which flexible tubes (known as endoscopes) with small cameras attached are inserted into a small incision or natural opening in the body. The camera allows the doctor to see what he or she is doing, eliminating the need to make larger incisions which are more traumatic to the body. Although minimally invasive, the larynx, or voice box, is located deep inside the throat; therefore, endoscopic biopsies are performed in the operating room while the patient is under general anesthesia. The endoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth. Small instruments are then inserted through the endoscope to take tissue samples from the voice box.
Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy A fine needle aspiration biopsy is the other way in which a voice box biopsy is performed. With this procedure, a thin needle is used to collect a sample of cells to test for cancer. However, the cells are not taken directly from the voice box. Instead, they are taken from a suspicious mass elsewhere in the body, usually in the neck. Doctors will then examine the sample cells under a microscope and test them for cancer. If cancer is found, it is possible to determine whether the cancer originated in the voice box or not. This type of biopsy has its limitations. If the cells in the suspicious mass are determined to be benign, that doesn't guarantee that cancer isn't present in the voice box. If you have symptoms of laryngeal cancer and have a fine needle aspiration biopsy that fails to detect anything wrong, it would be wise to opt for further testing just to be on the safe side.