Purpose: In a series of consecutive patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the supraglottic larynx, in which almost all were treated by primary radiotherapy, the study describes the path from diagnosis to cure or death, and evaluates the patterns of failure and the treatment of recurrences.
Methods and materials: The analysis included 410 patients, 104 females and 306 males, treated between 1963 and 1991. Most patients were in Stage I (33%), and the remaining were in Stage II (18%), III (23%), and IV (26%). Primary intended curative treatment was delivered in 398 (radiotherapy, 394; surgery, 4) of 410 cases (98%).
Results: Initial radical treatment resulted in 173 cured patients and 225 patients with a recurrence. Curatively intended salvage could be applied in 158 patients: surgery in 154 patients (74 cured) and radiotherapy in 4 (none cured). Overall, 247 patients (60%) obtained tumor control, 179 (44%) without a laryngectomy. Sixty-three patients had a total laryngectomy, and five had a partial laryngectomy. The 5-year locoregional tumor control, disease-specific survival, and overall survival rates were 43%, 61%, and 47%, respectively. With a follow-up of 20 years posttreatment, 91 new primary malignant tumors were detected.
Conclusions: Radiotherapy is effective in the treatment of supraglottic laryngeal carcinoma, and the patients have a relatively good prognosis. Many patients retained their larynx intact. Recurrence after primary radiotherapy can be treated by surgery, with a high success rate even in advanced stages. Development of second primary cancer is a growing problem.