Background. Oropharyngeal, laryngeal, and hypopharyngeal cancer treatment has changed at our institution, but survival outcomes have not been evaluated. Methods. We approached the evaluation by a retrospective single-institution cohort study. Results. Review of 180 patient records from 1993 to 2004 revealed that the number of patients with oropharyngeal cancer treated nearly doubled, whereas the number of patients with laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers declined (p =.006). Since 2000, concurrent chemotherapeutic regimens rather than radiation alone became the dominant treatment approach, with associated improvements in recurrence-free and overall survival (p =.009 and p =.006, respectively). Stratification by tumor site, however, revealed the survival of patients with oropharyngeal cancer improved markedly, whereas the survival of patients with laryngeal cancer did not change. In the multivariate analysis, T classification (p =.0001) and chemotherapy use (p =.0001) were associated with improved survival. The recurrence-free survival of nonsmokers was better than that for former or current smokers (p =.01), but was accounted for by earlier T classification on presentation in the multivariate analysis (p =.0001). The predominant initial site of failure remained at the primary site for oropharyngeal cancer (14 of 17 relapses or 82%), but not laryngeal cancer (3 of 7 relapses or 42%). As a result, an increasing number of patients with recurrent oropharyngeal cancer, and a decreasing number of recurrent laryngeal cancer patients were evaluated for salvage surgery. Patients with oropharyngeal recurrences, however, were less likely to undergo surgery with curative intent (p =.02) and were less likely to achieve locoregional control after disease recurrence. Conclusions. The survival of patients with oropharyngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers treated at our institution has improved over the last 15 years, which is likely related to changes in treatment and tumor biology. The improvement was not observed in patients with laryngeal cancer. A subset of patients with oropharyngeal cancer remain subject to local failure and disease-related death.
- head and neck cancer
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