Photoangiolytic Laser Treatment of Early Glottic Cancer: A New Management Strategy

Steven M. Zeitels, James A. Burns, Gerardo Lopez-Guerra, R. Rox Anderson, Robert E. Hillman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


The 532 nm pulsed KTP (potassium titanyl phosphate) laser and the 585 nm pulsed dye laser (PDL) are photoangiolytic lasers that have been demonstrated to be effective for managing vocal fold dysplasia. The putative mechanism of action is selective photoangiolysis of the sublesional microcirculation. On the basis of this experience, early glottic cancers were treated by selectively targeting the intralesional and sublesional microvasculature. This approach was derived from Folkman's concepts of neoplastic growth resulting from tumor angiogenesis. Staged microlaryngeal treatment was adopted, because it facilitated optimal functional results, and was considered safe, because early glottic cancer rarely metastasizes. Furthermore, intercurrent disease during conventional incremental radiotherapy is typical in treating early glottic cancer. A pilot group of 22 patients with early glottic cancer (13 T1, 9 T2) were treated with a fiber-based angiolytic laser. Eleven of the 22 had unilateral disease and were entirely treated by laser photoangiolysis as a sole modality. Eleven of the 22 had bilateral disease; 5 of the 11 were treated entirely (bilaterally) by laser photoangiolysis, and 6 of the 11 only underwent laser treatment of the less involved vocal fold, with conventional resection being done on the dominant side of the cancer. The initial 8 of the 22 were treated with the PDL, and the latter 14 of the 22 were treated with the pulsed KTP laser. No patient has cancer presently, and none have undergone posttreatment radiotherapy or open surgery. The mean follow-up is 27 months, 13 of the 22 patients have at least 2 years of follow-up, and the first patient was treated just over 5 years ago. Objective measures of vocal function revealed that photoangiolytic treatment of early glottic cancer resulted in significant postoperative improvements despite the fact that half of the patients had bilateral disease. Angiolytic lasers effectively involuted early glottic cancer, with microsurgically directed nonionizing radiation of the dense neoplastic blood supply resulting in complete tumor regression. This approach is conceptually attractive, because it is repeatable, it preserves all conventional cancer treatment options, and it results in excellent vocal function by improving phonatory mucosal wave vibration. Observations from this investigation suggest that this new and novel cancer treatment strategy is effective; however, larger patient cohorts, longer follow-up, and multi-institutional confirmation will be necessary to establish incontrovertible oncological efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2-24
Number of pages23
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008


  • glottis
  • laryngeal cancer
  • laser
  • microlaryngoscopy
  • phonomicrosurgery
  • phonosurgery
  • vocal cord
  • vocal fold
  • voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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