Fifty-three patients underwent laser cordectomy for T1 glottic squamous cell carcinoma between January 1980 and December 1989 - sixteen after having undergone unsuccessful radiation and thirty-seven who had no previous treatment. There was a 51% five-year cure rate in the irradiated group vs. 62% in the nonirradiated group. Extension of tumor to the anterior commissure resulted in a higher failure rate. Patients experienced an overall 5-year cure rate of 98% after surgical or radiation salvage of unsuccessful laser cordectomies. Six patients had preoperative and postoperative videostrobolaryngoscopy. The most common postoperative problem with voice was a breathiness that did not resolve in any of the patients. All patients had absent or moderately reduced amplitude and mucosal wave patterns and imcomplete glottic closure proportional to the amount of cordal tissue removed. Despite its seemingly poor results in carefully selected patients, laser cordectomy is still indicated without compromising the ultimate oncologic results. Advantages over radiation therapy or conservation laryngeal surgery include a short treatment time, requiring only an outpatient surgical procedure at the time of the initial diagnostic and/or staging laryngoscopy, and the avoidance of potential radiation side effects or surgical complications. However, patients should be advised the possibility of persistent postoperative breathy dysphonia, in addition to the possibility of further treatment to effect a long-term cure.
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