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NCI Monogr. 1988;(6):361-4.

New strategies for avoiding total laryngectomy in patients with head and neck cancer.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.


Cisplatin-based chemotherapy has yielded high response rates in patients with head and neck cancer but has failed to improve the survival rates in randomized studies. Thus, its place in the management of head and neck cancer remains unclear. We have been investigating whether the combination of chemotherapy and radical irradiation as an alternative to morbid surgery in selected patients might yield an improved quality of life without compromising survival. Between January 1983 and December 1985, we treated 32 patients with epidermoid carcinoma arising from the larynx, base of the tongue, or hypopharynx, using an interdisciplinary regimen, with the objective of avoiding total laryngectomy. All of these patients had large primary tumors that could not have been removed without total laryngectomy. Patients who could be treated by conservation laryngeal surgery were excluded, as were patients who presented with clearly unresectable disease. The regimen employed cisplatin-based chemotherapy together with brachytherapy and external radiation therapy, with highly individualized treatment planning. Seven patients had T2 lesions, 19 had T3, and 6 had T4. The follow-up periods ranged from 8 to 38 months (median, 18). The actuarial survival rate at 2 years is 85%, and the laryngectomy-free rate at 2 years is also 85%. None of the 11 patients with laryngeal cancer has relapsed, and none has required laryngectomy. None of the 12 patients with base of the tongue cancer treated by brachytherapy has relapsed above the clavicles and none has required laryngectomy, but 1 patient has died of complications of treatment.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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