Survival after refusal of surgical treatment for locally advanced laryngeal cancer

Sean T. Massa, Nosayaba Osazuwa-Peters, Joel Franco, Gregory W. Ward, Ronald J. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective Survival of advanced laryngeal cancer is declining while the popularity of organ preservation protocols grows. This study assesses the survival impact of refusing surgical treatment for locally advanced, resectable laryngeal cancer. Methods Adult patients with T3 and T4a non-metastatic laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma were identified from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results 18 database from 2004 to 2013. Patients were stratified based on a recommendation for extirpative surgery and the refusal of surgery. Multivariate logistic regression modeling identified variables associated with refusal. A multivariate cox proportional hazard model produced adjusted Kaplan-Meier survival curves. Survival was compared using adjusted hazard ratios (aHR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Results Of 5786 patients in the study, 2877 were recommended for surgical treatment and 138 (4.8%) refused. Refusal of surgery was associated with unmarried status (Single, odds ratio (OR) 1.79, CI 1.10–2.92), black race (OR 1.50, CI 1.00–2.22), T3 tumors (OR 1.80, CI 1.26–2.61) and N3 nodal disease (OR 3.50, CI 1.24–8.48). Compared to patients undergoing surgery, those who refused had lower 5-year cancer specific survival and increased hazard of cancer-specific mortality (aHR 1.60, CI 1.24–2.07) which resulted in decreased 5-year survival (50.0 vs 60.1%), after controlling for other factors. Conclusion Refusal of surgery for locally advanced laryngeal cancer is more common in patients without marital support and with T3 tumors. This decision results in a 10% survival decrease at 5-year. Future study is needed to understand patients’ reasoning behind this decision and to investigate additional factors not available in this dataset.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-40
Number of pages7
JournalOral Oncology
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Laryngectomy
  • Organ preservation therapy
  • Patient preference
  • Survival
  • Treatment refusal


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