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Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003 Feb;128(2):200-9.

Partial laryngectomy after irradiation failure.

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  • 1Ear, Nose and Throat Department, Faculty of Medicine, University of Athens.



Radiation therapy is often the first method of treating patients with early cancer of the glottis. There is a substantial failure rate among these patients. Total laryngectomy has usually been the means of treating patients with failure after radiation. In recent decades, partial laryngectomy has been used for salvage in such patients. This article will discuss the use of partial laryngectomy for radiation failure both from the oncologic result as well as the morbidity.


Between 1984 and 1995, 27 patients with early-stage laryngeal carcinoma underwent salvage partial laryngectomy after irradiation failure. Vertical laryngectomy was performed in 18 patients (13 with T1 N0 and 5 with T2 N0) and horizontal-supraglottic laryngectomy in 9 patients (3 with T1 N0, 1 with T2 N0, and 5 with T2 N1). The mean follow-up was 4.1 years.


Local control was obtained in 77.7% of patients with glottic lesions (T1: 84.6%; T2: 60%, P = NS) and in 55.5% of patients with supraglottic lesions (T1: 66.6%; T2: 50%; P = NS). There was no regional recurrence in the vertical laryngectomy group, whereas the regional control rate in the horizontal-supraglottic laryngectomy group was 77.7%. Distant control was achieved in 94.4% of patients with glottic disease and in 77.7% of patients with supraglottic disease. The overall survival rate for glottic lesions was 88.8% (T1: 92.3%; T2: 80%; P = NS) versus 66.6% for supraglottic lesions (T1: 100%; T2: 50%; P = NS).


Vertical laryngectomy was not associated with an increased complication rate. Morbidity in the horizontal-supraglottic laryngectomy group was higher, but a satisfactory functional outcome was obtained in all cases. Therefore, in early laryngeal cancer (glottic T1-T2, supraglottic T1) partial laryngectomy can be performed with good expectation of cure and satisfactory laryngeal function. In T2 supraglottic lesions, the oncologic results are less satisfactory; further research is required for developing more efficient complimentary or alternative treatments modalities.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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