Resolution of vocal fold leukoplakia during erlotinib treatment for lung cancer | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Resolution of vocal fold leukoplakia during erlotinib treatment for lung cancer

| Reprints
February 24, 2016
by David O. Francis, MD, MS; Stephanie Misono, MD, MPH; Jessica Somerville, MD; Andrew McWhorter, MD; C. Gaelyn Garrett, MD


Treatment of vocal fold leukoplakia is complicated because it is associated with a high rate of recurrence after excision and it has the potential for progression to malignancy. Authors have presented different approaches to management, one of which is directed serial excisional biopsies. Ideally, a topical or systemic agent could be administered to eradicate this troublesome condition. We present the case of a patient with an 8-year history of vocal fold leukoplakia treated with directed serial biopsies who was subsequently diagnosed with non-small-cell lung cancer and treated with erlotinib. He experienced a complete resolution after 2 months of erlotinib therapy for his lung cancer. Immunohistochemistry confirmed that his lesion exhibited a much higher than normal expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which supports the idea that EGFR antagonism may combat EGFR-avid leukoplakia. However, we caution that the clinical observation made herein is an association and should not be misconstrued as a recommendation regarding the safety, efficacy, or economy of using erlotinib for the treatment of vocal fold leukoplakia.

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