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Laryngoscope. 2006 Sep;116(9):1651-6.

Does induction chemotherapy still have a role in larynx preservation strategies? The experience of Institut Catala d'Oncologia in stage III larynx carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain.



Radiotherapy with concurrent cisplatin is the standard alternative to total laryngectomy for patients with locally advanced laryngeal cancer. The value of induction chemotherapy in larynx-preservation therapies remains unknown. Hyperfractionation radiotherapy might improve disease-free survival.


From August 1993 to August 2004, 71 patients with T3N0-1 larynx tumors and eligible for total laryngectomy received induction chemotherapy with three cycles of cisplatin plus fluorouracil. Clinical tumor response was assessed by indirect laryngoscopy and computed tomography scan. Patients with complete response received hyperfractionation radiotherapy, whereas those without complete response were proposed for total laryngectomy.


A total of 71 consecutive patients were included. Thirty-three patients achieved complete response to induction chemotherapy (46.5%), four of them presented a tumor relapse, and all underwent salvage surgery. Seventy-six percent of surviving patients preserved a functional larynx. Despite not achieving complete response, 15 patients refused total laryngectomy and received hyperfractionation radiotherapy. Seven patients presented a tumor relapse and salvage surgery was performed in three of them. Fifty percent of surviving patients preserved a functional larynx. Twenty-two patients without complete response underwent total laryngectomy; three of them presented a tumor relapse but none could be rescued. With a median follow up of 68 months, 5 five-year overall survival, 5-year disease-free survival, and 5-year larynx function preservation survival rates were 68% (confidence interval [CI], 57-80), 75% (CI, 64-87), and 42% (CI, 29-54), respectively. No differences in overall survival were observed between groups. Five-year disease-free survival of patients without complete response who received hyperfractionation radiotherapy was significantly lower than that of the other two groups (P < .02). Ten patients with larynx preservation and no tumor relapse had chronic toxicity that caused the loss of larynx function: seven patients required permanent tracheotomy, two died from pneumonia, and one patient died as a result of a laryngeal necrosis.


Patients with complete response to induction chemotherapy in laryngeal carcinoma have a high probability of cure after hyperfractionation radiotherapy. However, hyperfractionation radiotherapy induces a high degree of toxicity that reduces the laryngeal function preservation rate and may jeopardize overall survival.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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