Background: Survival has decreased among patients with laryngeal cancer during the past 2 decades in the United States. During this same period, there has been an increase in the nonsurgical treatment of laryngeal cancer.
Objective: The objectives of this study were to identify trends in the demographics, management, and outcome of laryngeal cancer in the United States and to analyze factors contributing to the decreased survival.
Study Design: The authors conducted a retrospective, longitudinal study of laryngeal cancer cases.
Methods: Review of the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) revealed 158,426 cases of laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma (excluding verrucous carcinoma) diagnosed between the years 1985 and 2001. Analysis of these case records addressed demographics, management, and survival for cases grouped according to stage, site, and specific TNM classifications.
Results: This review of data from the NCDB analysis confirms the previously identified trend toward decreasing survival among patients with laryngeal cancer from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s. Patterns of initial management across this same period indicated an increase in the use of chemoradiation with a decrease in the use of surgery despite an increase in the use of endoscopic resection. The most notable decline in the 5-year relative survival between the 1985 to 1990 period and the 1994 to 1996 period occurred among advanced-stage glottic cancer, early-stage supraglottic cancers, and supraglottic cancers classified as T3N0M0. Initial treatment of T3N0M0 laryngeal cancer (all sites) in the 1994 to 1996 period resulted in poor 5-year relative survival for those receiving either chemoradiation (59.2%) or irradiation alone (42.7%) when compared with that of patients after surgery with irradiation (65.2%) and surgery alone (63.3%). In contrast, identical 5-year relative survival (65.6%) rates were observed during this same period for the subset of T3N0M0 glottic cancers initially treated with either chemoradiation or surgery with irradiation.
Conclusions: The decreased survival recorded for patients with laryngeal cancer in the mid-1990s may be related to changes in patterns of management. Future studies are warranted to further evaluate these associations.