• Laryngeal carcinoma;
  • vocal cord fixation;
  • chemoradiotherapy;
  • organ preservation



To determine whether vocal cord fixation precludes nonsurgical management of T3/T4 laryngeal carcinoma.

Study Design:

A retrospective chart review.


Between 1989 and 2005 patient records with T3/T4 squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx with vocal cord fixation at presentation were reviewed. All were treated with a concomitant cisplatin-based chemoradiotherapy protocol and were part of the institutional head and neck cancer chemoradiotherapy registry. Only patients with adequate pre- and post-treatment fiberoptic evaluations were included. Charts were reviewed for demographics and tumor characteristics; return of vocal cord function; local, regional, or distant recurrence after treatment; and need for salvage surgery. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate outcomes, and the log-rank test was used to compare those patients whose vocal cords remained fixed to those with recovery of function.


Twenty-three patients met the inclusion criteria, 19 males and 4 females. The median age was 59 years (range, 39–73). Fourteen patients had T3 and nine had T4 tumors. Twelve patients recovered full range of mobility, three had partial recovery, and eight did not recover motion. The median follow-up was 68 months (range, 34–191). Comparing patients with post-treatment partial or fully mobile cords to those with persistent fixation revealed the following: A projected five-year overall survival of 100% versus 25%, (P < .001), freedom from recurrence of 86.7 versus 25% (P < .001), local control without surgery of 86.7% versus 30% (P = .003), and survival with functional larynx of 86.7% versus 25% (P = .008), respectively.


Nonsurgical therapy in patients with pretreatment vocal cord fixation is feasible. However, persistence of vocal cord fixation after definitive chemoradiotherapy is a poor prognostic sign and early surgical intervention should be considered. Laryngoscope, 2009