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To evaluate the significance of patients’ ability to recognise symptoms that signify recurrence.
A retrospective analysis was conducted in Norway of demographic, clinical and follow-up data for patients with laryngeal carcinoma considered free of disease following treatment. The study included clinical data from 732 patients with glottic tumours and 249 patients with supraglottic tumours who were considered cured of disease. Data on the site, time and type of recurrence (symptomatic or asymptomatic) were retrieved.
Recurrence was observed in 127 patients with glottic tumours and 71 with supraglottic tumours. A total of 103 glottic recurrences and 53 supraglottic recurrences were symptomatic. For patients with glottic carcinoma, recurrence detection through symptoms was associated with a favourable post-salvage survival rate compared with asymptomatic recurrences (p = 0.003).
A patient's ability to self-detect ‘red flag’ symptoms and self-initiate visits represents a previously ignored prognostic factor, and may rationalise follow up and improve survival.
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