European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

, Volume 268, Issue 4, pp 481–487

Current concepts of organ preservation in head and neck cancer

Review Article


The treatment of laryngeal and hypopharyngel cancer nowadays is not limited by surgical resection. There are many interdisciplinary approaches which we can offer these patients in our clinics. These include radiotherapy, chemotherapy, biologicals and surgery. The combination of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, biologicals and surgery techniques more and more allows us to perform organ and function preservation in a former often mutilating and function destroying treatment. Since the early 1990s, evidence from large randomized trials has shown that organ preservation studies using sequential and concomitant radio-chemotherapy do not compromise survival when compared with surgery followed by radiotherapy. However, using these therapies side effects have to be taken into consideration and not organ preservation but function preservation is the treatment goal. The current most common treatment options are shown here in this review. For future treatment protocols there is an urgent need to refine the definition of a functional organ, to define quality of life endpoints and to refine the recommendations for evaluating treatment response.


Organ preservation Head and neck cancer Concurrent radio-chemotherapy Induction chemotherapy Organ preservation surgery Molecular therapy 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Head and Neck Surgery and OtolaryngologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany

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