OBJECTIVE: The study goal was to determine whether pretreatment parameters can be used to predict poor outcomes related to laryngeal function among survivors after organ preservation therapy for advanced laryngeal cancer. DESIGN: A retrospective analysis of patients treated in an ongoing chemoradiation trial. SETTING: Academic tertiary care referral medical center. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Among the 65 patients receiving concomitant intra-arterial cisplatin and radiation therapy for stage III and IV laryngeal cancer between 1993 and 1999, we identified 45 who were available for follow-up and were disease free 6 months after the completion of therapy. A nominal logistic regression analysis was performed to study the effect of age, gender, T and N classification, vocal cord fixation, massive cartilage destruction, and neck dissection on the likelihood of requiring a tracheostomy tube for breathing and/or a gastrostomy tube for feeding at 6 months after the completion of therapy. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Persistent use of gastrostomy tube feedings and/or tracheostomy at 6 months after the completion of therapy. RESULTS: Sixteen patients (36%) required a feeding tube and/or a tracheostomy (tracheostomy 13, gastrostomy 13, both 10). Regression analysis of all pretreatment factors indicated vocal cord fixation as being the strongest predictor of a poor functional outcome (defined as the persistent need for a feeding tube and/or tracheostomy at 6 months after therapy). Among the 27 patients in this subset, 15 (56%) had a poor functional outcome. In contrast, only 1 (6%) of 18 patients without vocal cord fixation had poor laryngeal function. Although the history of pulmonary disease was not a significant parameter by itself, when combined with vocal cord fixation, 6 of 8 patients had a poor functional outcome. CONCLUSION: Pretreatment parameters may be used to predict a poor functional outcome after chemoradiation. Because of the high likelihood of poor function, laryngeal cancer patients seeking organ preservation therapy with chemoradiation should be cautioned if they present with a fixed vocal cord.
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