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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Laryngectomy is performed more often in patients with advanced laryngeal cancer

Zhu and colleagues recently investigated whether having a medical comorbidity influenced the choice of treatment of patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx. Comorbidity is the presence of an underlying pathologic condition that has an impact on a patient's total burden of disease. More than 2/3 of patients with cancer have a comorbid condition, and up to one-third of these patients have 2 or more, with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and pulmonary disease among the most prevalent.

The study evaluated 16 849 patients from more than 1400 medical centers diagnosed with primary invasive advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx between 2003 and 2008. They were selected from the National Cancer Database.

The study demonstrated that receipt of treatment (chemoradiation vs total laryngectomy) was significantly associated with comorbidity. Patients with comorbidity were more likely to have subtotal or total laryngectomy. Patients were also more likely to undergo laryngectomy if they had stage IV disease and if they had been diagnosed at a teaching or research institution. Patients were more likely to receive chemoradiation if they were diagnosed after 2003 or if they lived in a zip code with a high percentage of high school graduates.

The study is the first that demonstrates that patients with advanced laryngeal cancer with one or more comorbidities are more likely to receive surgery than chemoradiation compared with patients without any comorbidity. Previous studies have demonstrated better survival in patients with advanced laryngeal cancer who had been treated with surgery compared with those without.

This study supports the superiority of laryngectomy even in presence of comorbidity.  Even though patients with a comorbidity were less healthy initially their outcome was better after laryngectomy than those who received chemoradiation.