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March 11, 1983

Irradiation for early vocal cord cancer saves life and voice

JAMA. 1983;249(10):1241. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330340003001

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In early vocal cord carcinoma, radiation therapy with surgery held in reserve is the treatment of choice.

That's the conclusion of a retrospective study of 177 patients treated during a 26-year period at the Department of Radiation Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis. At mean tenyear follow-up, there was 95% patient survival, 90% voice preservation, and 96% tumor control.

Reporting to the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiologists in Orlando, Fla, Bharat Mittal, MD, now assistant professor, radiation oncology, University of Pittsburgh, said that although equally good patient survivals for similar-stage patients (with epidermoid carcinoma confined to the true vocal cords) have been achieved with surgery, the voice is often sacrificed.

With radiation therapy, the voice is saved, and even when hemilaryngectomy is undertaken after failure of radiation therapy, the voice can often be preserved.

In addition, radiation therapy is cheaper and reduces time