Laser Surgery for Early-Stage Laryngeal Cancers: Standards of Care in the OR

Memorial Sloan Kettering head and neck surgeon Ian Ganly describes the growing use of transoral laser surgery to resect early-stage (T1-2) laryngeal cancers, and the appeal of the approach as an alternative to radiation therapy. One advantage of laser therapy is that in patients with small surgical margins or whose tumors recur, a second resection may be required, but salvage treatment is very difficult if radiation therapy was the primary therapeutic modality. Laser surgery takes approximately one hour to perform and can be done on an outpatient basis. It is equivocal to radiation therapy in terms of efficacy and effects on the voice, but at half the cost. The average five-year disease-specific survival rate for laser surgery is 98 percent, and the five-year local disease control rate is 90 percent.