Early Vocal Cord Cancer: Remove with a Laser, or Radiate?

Patients who are diagnosed with early vocal cord cancer have two main treatment options to consider: laser surgery or radiation. There are quite a few factors to consider when weighing these two options, which can be confusing for the patient and challenging for the clinician to explain.

After 15 years of laryngology practice, I decided to create a single, codified overview on this subject, to help me teach more clearly and comprehensively when consulting with patients about this decision. Since creating that overview (which I also send home with patients as a handout), I’ve found it much easier to explain to patients the factors to consider when deciding between laser surgery and radiation to treat early vocal cord cancer. Below is that overview I created, in case it could help others who are consulting on or making this decision.

Carcinoma In Situ (CIS)

Carcinoma in situ (CIS) is a lesion comprised of “cancer cells,” but with those cells limited to the lining mucosa and without evidence of extension to adjacent structures. In other words, there is no sign of invasion beyond the mucosa. CIS is typically a localized and highly curable precursor to invasive cancer. It is sometimes called […]