Fifty-seven percent of patients report low voice disability, 40 percent report no eating problem

-- Jeff Muise

Monday, March 1, 2010 (Last Updated: 03/02/2010)

MONDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with head or neck cancer who undergo induction chemotherapy followed by radiation in a treatment approach to preserve the larynx have a low risk of subsequent severe voice disability, according to a study presented at the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium, held from Feb. 25 to 27 in Chandler, Ariz., sponsored by the American Head and Neck Society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, and the Society of Nuclear Medicine.

Gilles Calais, M.D., of Hôpital Bretonneau in Tours, France, and colleagues followed 213 patients who received induction chemotherapy using cisplatin and fluorouracil, with and without docetaxel, followed by radiation. The researchers followed the patients for 61 months and reported on the patients' functioning as indicated by quality of voice, ability to eat, and quality of life.

Averaging the docetaxel and non-docetaxel groups, the researchers found overall laryngo-esophageal dysfunction free-survival was 28 percent. Fifty-seven percent of patients reported low voice disability, and 15 percent reported severe voice disability. Forty percent of patients reported no problems with eating or swallowing and 8 percent relied on a feeding tube.

"For cancer patients receiving treatment to their larynx, it is important to preserve the organ, but it is more important to preserve the function of this organ. This is the first study that analyzes not only the preservation rate but also the preservation of the function of the larynx and the esophagus," Calaise said in a statement.

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