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Reasonable limits for transoral laser microsurgery in laryngeal cancer.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Transoral laser microsurgery (TLM) is widely acknowledged to offer several advantages in the treatment of early and selected intermediate-advanced laryngeal cancers. Nevertheless, a number of issues are still under debate. The purpose of this review is to discuss the reasonable limits for TLM in laryngeal cancer to highlight its most appropriate and reproducible indications, putting this therapeutic tool in the right perspective within a comprehensive frame of alternative treatment strategies such as open partial laryngectomies and nonsurgical organ preservation protocols.

RECENT FINDINGS: Inadequate laryngeal exposure, anterior commissure involvement in the cranio-caudal plane (T2), invasion of the posterior paraglottic space with arytenoid fixation, massive infiltration of the preepiglottic space, and even minor thyroid cartilage erosion (T3) represent the most controversial applications of TLM in management of glottic and supraglottic cancer.

SUMMARY: Published oncological results appear to be satisfactory when TLM is applied to T1-T2 and accurately selected T3 glottic and supraglottic cancers with favourable exposure. Caution should be used for more advanced tumours.

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