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A gene model utilizing 30 specific genes derived from a patient’s tumor sample can help predict the risk of recurrence in operable largyneal cancer. Those patients at a high risk of a recurrence may benefit from more aggressive therapies while those at a low risk of recurrence may be spared unnecessary treatment. These results were presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The larynx is a hollow, tubular structure located in the neck through which air passes on its way to the lungs. The larynx prevents food from entering the lungs, and also contains the vocal cords. When air is directed against the vocal cords, they vibrate to make sound used in speech.

Early largyngeal cancer is often treated with surgery with or without radiation therapy. The goal of surgery is to eradicate the cancer while preserving speech.

Physicians are not yet able to accurately predict which patients with early laryngeal cancer are at a high risk of a recurrence following surgery. Fortunately, the medical community is beginning to integrate novel strategies such as genetics into their treatment approaches, so that individualized therapy may ultimately be utilized for optimal outcomes.

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Researchers from the United States and Europe recently conducted a clinical study in an attempt to identify certain genes that may predict the risk of a recurrence among patients with operable laryngeal cancer. This study included tumor samples from over 66 patients with operable laryngeal cancer who underwent surgery with or without radiation therapy. First, genes which predicted the risk of recurrence were identified through gene expression profiling, followed by validation methods measuring the accuracy of these genes in predicting recurrence.

  • Results provided a 30-gene model that predicted patients with a high risk of recurrence and those with a low risk of recurrence.
  • Cancer-free survival was approximately 34 months for those predicted to have a high risk of recurrence according to the gene model and 80 months for those predicted to have a low risk of recurrence.

Although this gene model needs further study, the lead author states that “We have established and validated gene models that can successfully stratify patients with laryngeal cancer, based on their risk for recurrence. Thus, patients with unfavorable prognosis, when accurately identified, could be ideal candidates for the application of more aggressive treatment modalities.”

Reference: Fountzilas E, Angouridakis N, Karasmanis I, et al. Prediction of clinical outcome in patients with primary laryngeal carcinoma using gene expression profiling. Paper presented at: 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology; June 3-7, 2011; Chicago, IL. Abstract 5505.