Compared to open surgery, TLM does not require external incisions. As a result, patients experience faster recovery time, less inflammation and pain, lower risk of infection and fewer side effects due to damage of structures involved in speech, swallowing and breathing.
Traditionally, radiation therapy has been the first line of treatment for early stage throat cancer. However, the long-term survival for TLM compares favorably to radiation and the quality of life advantages of treating with TLM are clinically-proven.
Since the specialized CO2 laser used in TLM is able to cut through tissue with minimal heat to healthy tissue, crucial structures surrounding the tumor that are required for swallowing and speech, such as muscles, nerves and blood vessels remain undamaged.
Patients treated with TLM have no risk of radiation-associated side effects. TLM, at times, can be performed as a single procedure in the outpatient setting. In those cases overall treatment and recovery times are faster than with radiation (daily radiation therapy treatments span several weeks).
Moreover, after receiving radiation as the first-line treatment, some patients may no longer be able to undergo minimally invasive procedures if the first round of radiation therapy is unsuccessful, and tumor persists. The only option then is radical surgery, often requiring removal of the whole voice box, which can result in loss of voice. With TLM the option of repeat minimally invasive surgery interventions and even radiation therapy remains, if necessary.