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Spontaneous regression of laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma

  • F Sipaul (a1), B Ling (a2), C Mason (a3) and A Keast (a2)



Spontaneous regression of solid malignancy is extremely rare. It is virtually unheard of in the last half century in the published literature. The overwhelming majority of medical professionals do not know that this phenomenon exists.

Case report:

This paper reports such a case involving a patient with proven laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma in New Zealand. Whilst waiting for definitive treatment, he was afflicted with prolonged septicaemia secondary to peritonitis from percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube insertion. Following a total laryngectomy, histology of the specimen did not contain any evidence of neoplasia.


Based predominantly on work established by Dr William Coley, we believe that a period of prolonged pyrexia preceding definitive surgery contributed to this apparent ‘miracle’. The time may be ripe to further debate on whether the medical profession should consider pyrexia therapy as a last resort treatment for patients deemed incurable by conventional methods.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Mr Fabian Sipaul, ENT Department, Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK Fax: +44 (0)23 8082 5688 E-mail:


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1Everson, TC, Cole, WH. Spontaneous regression of cancer: preliminary report. Ann Surg 1956;144:366–83
2Challis, GB, Stam, HJ. The spontaneous regression of cancer. A review of cases from 1900 to 1987. Acta Oncol 1990;29:545–50
3Levine, MI, Reidbord, HE, Busis, SN. Carcinoma of the larynx. A case of apparent regression after inadequate therapy. Arch Otolaryngol 1970;91:385–6
4McCarthy, EF. The toxins of William B. Coley and the treatment of bone and soft-tissue sarcomas. Iowa Orthop J 2006;26:154–8
5Hoption Cann, SA, van Netten, JP, van Netten, C. Dr William Coley and tumour regression: a place in history or in the future. Postgrad Med J 2003;79:672–80
6Nauts, HC, McLaren, JR. Coley toxins – the first century. Adv Exp Med Biol 1990;267:483500



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