Importance of the field: Laryngeal cancer has been the model of curative-intent organ-preserving therapies in clinical oncology. Although the optimal care of patients with laryngeal cancer is truly multidisciplinary, with progressive advances in surgical, radiation, and medical oncology, the development of effective systemic therapies has been a major component of the therapeutic arsenal against laryngeal cancer.
Areas covered in this review: This review will discuss the rapidly evolving roles of chemotherapy in the management of locally advanced and metastatic laryngeal cancer.
What the reader will gain: The reader will gain a historical perspective on this evolution in treatment and will appreciate current treatment challenges and promising future directions in optimizing therapeutic efficacy in functional larynx preservation and in patient survival.
Take home message: The treatment of most patients with laryngeal cancer with systemic therapy represents an opportunity to positively impact functional outcomes with an anatomically and functionally preserved larynx. Future challenges include identification of novel therapies and optimizing therapy protocols for individualized patient care.