Laryngeal cancer involving a branchial cleft cyst

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Benign secondary neck lesions in the setting of laryngeal cancer have been described, but not with branchial cleft cysts. This article describes a branchial cleft cyst in a laryngectomy/neck dissection specimen.

Methods and Results.

A 44-year-old woman presented to our emergency department with an obstructing laryngeal tumor that was staged as a T4N0M0 squamous cell cancer on the basis of clinical and radiographic findings. After laryngectomy with bilateral neck dissections, the neck specimen contained a right-sided branchial cleft cyst, which was directly invaded by tumor. In addition, the location of the cyst relative to the larynx suggested that this was a third branchial cleft cyst.


This is the first report of a laryngeal carcinoma invading a branchial cleft cyst. Staging discrepancies may result from concurrent head and neck lesions, altering treatment plans, or changing the prognosis for the patient. Lesions such as this are nearly impossible to diagnose preoperatively, and a high index of suspicion for advanced cancer should be maintained. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2010

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