February 1995

Laryngeal Preservation for Advanced Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancers

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Head and Neck Surgery (Drs Clayman, Weber, Guillamondegui, Byers, Frankenthaler, and Goepfert and Ms Wolf), Radiotherapy (Drs Morrison and Garden), and Head and Neck Medical Oncology (Dr Hong), The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995;121(2):219-223. doi:10.1001/archotol.1995.01890020081015

Objective:  To compare a single institutional experience with combination chemotherapy and radiation for laryngeal preservation with historical age-, sex-, stage-, and site-matched controls who underwent laryngectomy for cancer of the larynx or hypopharynx.

Design:  Fifty-five patients with stage III or IV laryngeal and hypopharyngeal squamous carcinoma were prospectively entered into a protocol to receive three cycles of cisplatin (±bleomycin sulfate) and fluorouracil and radiation therapy from 1986 to 1991 (group 1). Following two cycles of chemotherapy, the clinical tumor response was assessed and responders received a third cycle of chemotherapy followed by definitive radiation therapy. Nonresponders underwent surgical salvage. Two patients in the surgical control group were matched to each protocol patient (n=110, group 2) regarding site, stage, sex, and age (±7 years) without knowledge of patient outcome.

Setting:  A tertiary cancer referral center, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston

Results:  Following chemotherapy, the tumor response rate for group 1 was complete in 38% and partial in 31%. With a median follow-up of 24 months (group 1) and 37 months (group 2), the Kaplan-Meier 2-year disease-specific survival for group 1 and 2 was 63% and 74%, respectively (P=.251). Among group 1 patients, 67% retained their larynges. Local recurrences were more frequent among the laryngeal preservation group (P=.001), whereas distant metastasis was more frequent among controls (P=.35). Thirty-three percent (18/55) of group 1 patients required total laryngectomy. Examining these subsets of patients showed that of the 67% (n=37) of patients who retained their larynges, their 2-year survival was 56%, not significantly different from their respective controls (n=74), 71%. Additionally, 2-year survival among the 18 group 1 patients who required salvage laryngectomy was 75% as compared with 80% for their matched controls (n=36).

Conclusions:  These results document the results of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in the treatment of patients with advanced laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers in preserving the larynx. Although local control is significantly compromised among these patients, there is no compromise in overall survival when combined with prompt surgical salvage.(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995;121:219-223)