OBJECTIVE: To study quality of life in patients treated for advanced hypopharyngeal or laryngeal cancer, with laryngeal conservation or laryngectomy.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Ours is a retrospective study which included 85 patients in remission from squamous cell carcinoma, treated between 2003 and 2011.Thirty patients (10 hypopharynx, 20 larynx) were treated by total (pharyngo-) laryngectomy followed by external radiation therapy, and 55 (37 hypopharynx, 18 larynx) underwent an organ-conservation protocol with concurrent radiochemotherapy or with induction chemotherapy using platin-5FU followed by radiation therapy. All patients responded to the quality of life questionnaires (EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-H&N35) applied to them on their followup visit during Oct- Dec 2011.RESULTS: Advanced tumor stages IVa and IVb were significantly more frequent in the surgery groups (hypopharynx: 67.8% vs. 32.3%, p=0.01; larynx: 62.4% vs. 47.5%, p<0.01). Sensory perception to smell and taste was significantly better in the laryngeal conservation group compared to surgery group(p< 0.01). In laryngeal cancer, the only significant difference was for "dry mouth", which was significantly less incapacitating with surgical treatment (p<0.001). The impairment of the other quality of life items did not differ between surgical and conservative treatment.CONCLUSIONS: Quality of life is impaired in all patients treated for pharyngeal or laryngeal cancer. The type of treatment, surgical or conservative, affects differently various aspects of quality of life.