Squamous cell carcinoma of the pyriform sinus: A nonrandomized comparison of therapeutic modalities and long-term results



From January 1964 through December 1991, 408 patients with squamous cell carcinomas involving the pyriform sinus were treated at Washington University Medical Center. Their ages ranged from 29 to 83 years (mean, 62.3; median 59) and the male to female ratio was 5:1. The mean duration of symptoms prior to diagnosis was 3.9 months (range 1 to 32 months) and 89% had a smoking or ethanol history. Sixty-seven percent had T3 or T4 lesions and 87% were stage III or IV at presentation. Sixty-nine percent had neck metastases. The treatment strategy varied with respect to radiation and reconstruction. Prior to 1978, preoperative radiation (3.5 to 5000 cGy) was used. Postoperative radiation was given thereafter (600+ Gy). Since 1982, flap reconstruction (usually pectoralis major myocutaneous) has been used to close the partial laryngopharyngectomy (PLP) defect. Almost all N0 necks were treated by radiation or surgery and all N1-N3 lesions were treated by combined therapy. Pyriform tumors were subdivided into three groups: 1. one-wall lesions (n = 48), 2. medial-wall lesions which involved the aryepiglottic fold or supraglottis (N = 267), and 3. two- or three-wall lesions which extended to the pyriform apex or post-cricoid region (N = 93). Ninety-five patients had single-modality therapy and 302 had combined treatment. Two hundred seven patients had conservation surgery (PLP) and 157 had total laryngopharyngectomy alone or in combination with radiation. Thirty-three patients were treated by radiation alone. Eleven patients were excluded from the study because of distant metastases (TxNxM1) at presentation. The cumulative survival (NED) at 5, 10, 15, and 20 years was 56%, 35%, 31%, and 20%, respectively. The cumulative locoregional control rate was 71%. At 5 years (NED), the cure rates for one-wall lesions (73%) were better than for medial-wall lesions (63%) or 2- and 3-wall lesions (49%).

One-wall lesions were smaller, medial-wall lesions behaved similar to supraglottic tumors, and two- or three-wall tumors behaved as hypopharyngeal tumors. The cure rates were related to T stage with T1 + T2 > T3 + T4 (28%). Neck metastases reduced the cure rate by 26% and N1 > N2-N3 by an additional 12%. Other factors contributing to therapeutic failure were distant metastases (17.7%), second primary tumors (6.2%; oropharynx and lung were most common), and intercurrent disease fatalities (9.5%). The secondary therapeutic salvage rate was 44% for surgery and 32% for radiation therapy. The therapeutic complication rate was 19% with 3.6% leading to fatality. On a selected basis, radiation combined with conservation surgery (71%) was more curative than with total laryngectomy (53%) or radiation alone (27%). There was no statistical difference between preoperative or postoperative radiation in either the conservation surgery or total laryngopharyngectomy groups. Postoperative radiation with flap reconstruction decreased the incidence of all complications, especially perioperative or delayed fatal complications (from 20% to 5.7%) in conservation surgery patients.