Laser surgery for mouth and throat cancer
May 29, 2000
Deutsche Press-Agentur (dpa)
Delegates at a recent congress on ENT medicine in Berlin were told laser surgery may even offer an alternative to conventional deep surgical incisions, which represent the normal treatment for tumours which have reached the latter stages.
Every year an estimated 10,000 men and 3,000 women develop a tumour in the mouth, throat or larynx.
The number of cases is rising, with alcohol and smoking the most significant risk factors associated with the condition.
Wolfgang Steiner of the Goettingen ENT University Hospital said treatment with a CO2 laser enabled doctors to isolate and remove the malignant layers of tissue.
One thousand heavy smokers at the universities of Goettingen and Essen were examined with a view to establishing whether early recognition of the disease would be advantageous. The test subjects all smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day.
Doctors detected a tumour in one patient and the early stages of a carcinoma in a further 50.
For this reason the ENT experts believe screening would be of benefit to heavy smokers and drinkers.
Treatment involving the complete removal of the larynx, which resulted in the patient losing his voice, combined with subsequent radiotherapy, did little to lengthen the patient's life expectancy, revealed Steiner.
He did believe there was an argument for surgery which allowed the patient to retain the larynx. Early results compared favourably to the complete removal of the organ, he added.