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01.12.2019 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

Radiation Oncology 1/2019

Long-term functional outcome after laryngeal cancer treatment

Radiation Oncology > Ausgabe 1/2019
Lukas Anschuetz, Mohamed Shelan, Marco Dematté, Adrian D. Schubert, Roland Giger, Olgun Elicin
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13014-019-1299-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Lukas Anschuetz, Mohamed Shelan, Roland Giger and Olgun Elicin contributed equally to this work.

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The functional outcome after the treatment of laryngeal cancer is tightly related to the quality of life of affected patients. The aim of this study is to describe the long-term morbidity and functional outcomes associated with the different treatment modalities for laryngeal cancer.


Retrospective chart review of 477 patients undergoing curatively intended treatment for laryngeal cancer at our tertiary referral center from 2001 to 2014: Details on patient and disease characteristics, diagnostics and treatment related functional outcomes were analyzed.


With a median follow-up of 51 months, the crude rate of functional larynx preservation was 74.6%. Radiotherapy +/− chemotherapy was the dominant treatment modality (n = 359–75.3%), whereas 24.7% (n = 118) underwent primary surgery, with 58.5% (69) receiving adjuvant treatment. The 5-year laryngectomy-free survival was 57% (95% CI, 48–66%) after surgery vs. 69% (95% CI, 64–75%) after chemoradiotherapy (p < 0.01). In stage III-IVB, these rates were 26% (95% CI, 16–39%) vs. 47% (95% CI, 36–59%), respectively (p < 0.01). Aspiration occurred in 7%, tracheostomy was necessary in 19.8% and feeding tube placement in 25.4%. Feeding tube and tracheostomy necessity was higher in the initially surgically treated group. Primary surgery (HR: 1.67, 95% CI: 1.19–2.32; p < 0.01), stage III-IVB (HR: 4.07, 95% CI: 2.97–5.60; p < 0.01) and tumor recurrence (HR: 3.83, 95% CI: 2.79–5.28; p < 0.01) remained as adverse factors for laryngectomy-free survival.


Preserving the laryngeal function after cancer treatment is challenging. Advanced tumor stages, primary surgery and recurrence are related to a poor functional outcome. Therefore, the criteria for initial decision-making needs to be further refined.
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