Current indications for adjuvant treatment following transoral laser microsurgery of early intermediate laryngeal cancer

Purpose of review This review summarizes the information in the literature on the indications for adjuvant therapy after transoral laser microsurgery (TLM) for early/intermediate stage laryngeal cancer.Recent findings A high rate of ‘nonevaluable’ margins after TLM significantly complicates decision-making concerning adjuvant therapy. However, consensus grows that second-look TLM in patients with multiple superficial and deep positive margins is more sensible than sending these patients systematically for adjuvant radiotherapy (RT).Summary The classical adagium: ‘Failure to achieve negative margins indicates need for adjuvant RT’ does not translate automatically to patients with glottic cancer treated by TLM. Rather, specifically patients with multiple superficial positive margins and positive deep margins after TLM need careful judging what constitutes the best additional adjuvant treatment. Second-look resection is nowadays regarded as the preferred adjuvant treatment for many of these patients whereas RT is reserved for those in whom a second look TLM is judged unlikely to result in ‘true negative margins.’ Additionally, when the pathology of the re-resection reveals multiple foci of residual disease or suggests again a resection with positive margins, adjuvant postoperative RT is likely to result in a better local control. If this strict selection of patients for adjuvant RT is adhered to carefully, oncological and functional results will be optimal.