A retrospective review of 240 patients with T1/T2 squamous cell carcinomas of the larynx was performed. Seventy-two per cent had glottic primaries, 27 per cent had supraglottic tumours and one per cent had subglottic disease. Sixty-nine per cent presented with T1 disease and 31 per cent had T2 staged tumours. All patients were treated with definitive radiotherapy between 1973 and 1997.
With a median follow-up of 68 months, 68 patients (28 per cent) have developed 72 other cancers. Ten of 68 presented with synchronous primaries (15 per cent). Thirty per cent of glottic patients and 25 per cent of the supraglottic/subglottic patients developed second cancers. The most frequent second malignancy was lung cancer: 28/72 (39 per cent). Fifteen patients developed second head and neck cancers (21 per cent). Other second primary sites included oesophagus (eight), prostate (six), colorectal (five), breast (two) and others (eight). The median time from radiotherapy until the development of a second cancer was 31 months. The Kaplan-Meier survival estimate at five years was significantly less for those patients developing second cancers (55 per cent) compared to those not developing second malignancies (70 per cent), (p<0.05). The median survival from the development of a second cancer was 14 months. More died as a result of a second cancer (41 patients) than their primary laryngeal cancer (40 patients). Second cancers are common and deadly in patients with early stage laryngeal carcinoma.