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Abstract

The treatment of cancer of the supraglottic larynx has undergone an evolution. Better understanding of the anatomy and biology of cancer in this anatomic site has enabled surgeons to devise effective oncologic strategies while making every effort to preserve the function of the larynx. Certain recent concepts and changing trends have emerged in the treatment of cancer of the supraglottic larynx, including the treatment of the neck, significance of extracapsular spread of tumor in cervical lymph nodes, and conservation laser surgery. In 1985, Snyderman et al.1 reported the prognostic significance of extracapsular spread in patients with cancer of the supraglottic larynx. In 1990, Lutz et al.2 reported the results of our experience with the treatment of 202 patients. The review verified the significant risk of bilateral neck disease in these patients, even with adjuvant radiation therapy. Accordingly, since 1990 all patients having cancer of the supraglottic larynx have been treated in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pittsburgh with bilateral neck dissections. The use of adjuvant radiation therapy has been based on the presence of extracapsular spread. This study documents the oncologic effectiveness of this treatment and confirms the efficacy of bilateral neck dissections in an attempt to control neck disease and the prognostic significance of extracapsular spread. We review the evolution of the treatment of cancer of the supraglottic larynx, present our results, and consider innovative surgical approaches.

Laryngoscope, 106:559-567, 1996