Salvage surgery after induction chemotherapy with paclitaxel/cisplatin and primary radiotherapy for advanced laryngeal and hypopharyngeal carcinomas Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Induction chemotherapy followed by primary radiotherapy in responders is considered an alternative to surgery for advanced cancer of the larynx and hypopharynx (LHC). Comparison of therapeutic approaches is challenging and must respect oncological and functional outcome as well as quality of life during and after treatment. One aspect of primary radiochemotherapy is the option of salvage surgery in case of residual tumor. The outcome after salvage surgery following new organ-preserving strategies has to be examined. All patients undergoing induction chemotherapy with paclitaxel and cisplatin followed by radiotherapy from 01/96 to 07/05 were included. Salvage surgery was performed either for local recurrence or suspected persistent nodal disease. Complete tumor removal, perioperative morbidity, and overall survival were analyzed in a retrospective study. 28 out of 134 patients underwent salvage surgery after primary treatment with induction chemotherapy and radiotherapy for advanced LHC. 15 patients had laryngectomy (LE) with neck dissection (ND), while 1 patient had lasersurgical partial laryngeal resection with ND for local recurrences. Twelve patients had salvage ND for suspicion of persistent lymph node metastases. 73% of LE patients had major postoperative problems such as pharyngocutaneous fistulas. In 56% of the cases, tumor removal turned out to be microscopically incomplete. Eight out of 12 patients who underwent salvage ND because of suspicious lymph nodes (66%) were free of vital tumor. When metastatic disease was present in the neck (4/12), recurrences occurred in 75% during postoperative follow-up. Only 2 out of 20 patients undergoing surgery for histologically proven recurrence after radiochemotherapy (10%) are actually tumor-free and alive after a mean observation time of 43.9 months. Salvage surgery for local recurrence is associated with high morbidity and poor oncological and functional outcome. ND for suspicious persistent nodal disease after radiochemotherapy can be an over-treatment. In our patients, it was burdened with cervical recurrences and distant metastases in presence of histologically confirmed lymph node metastases. In the light of our results, unfavourable outcome after salvage surgery must be pointed out when initially informing patients about different therapeutic options for advanced LHC.


  • Relic, A
  • Scheich, M
  • Stapf, J
  • Voelter, C
  • Hoppe, Fred
  • Hagen, R
  • Pfreundner, L

publication date

  • November 2009