Survival impact of planned restaging and early surgical salvage following definitive chemoradiation for locally advanced squamous cell carcinomas of the oropharynx and hypopharynx

Sue S. Yom, Mitchell Machtay, Merrill A. Biel, Robert J. Sinard, Adel K. El-Naggar, Randal S. Weber, David I. Rosenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Objectives: Patients who have received definitive radiation therapy (RT) for a nonlaryngeal T3/4 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma have a limited opportunity for post-RT surgical salvage. The authors reviewed the practice of planned post-RT restaging to determine its impact on the success of early surgical salvage. Methods: A retrospective review was performed for patients with resectable T3/4 cancers of the oropharynx and hypopharynx treated with RT ± chemotherapy who underwent planned restaging clinically, radiographically (CT or MRI), and by direct laryngoscopy with biopsy at 4 to 8 weeks post-RT. Chemotherapy was given as induction, concurrently, or both. Neck dissection was performed at time of restaging in patients with primary tumor control and initial N2/N3 neck disease or persistent lymphadenopathy. Results: A total of 54 patients had a median follow-up of 34.7 months (range, 7.6-97.8 months). Forty-two patients (78.8%) achieved a complete response (CR) at the primary site immediately after RT. Six developed late local failure at 9 to 61 months, of whom 2 were successfully salvaged. The ultimate 2-year local control among patients with initial CR was 94.8%. The 2-year organ preservation, disease-free survival, and overall survival (OS) rates were was 92.5%, 87%, and 90%, respectively. Twelve patients did not achieve initial CR. Two patients with bulky stage IV disease had unresectable cancers. Ten underwent immediate surgical salvage and 7 achieved local control (1 of whom developed distant metastases) whereas 3 had continued local failure. For patients without initial CR, the 2-year ultimate local control rate was 46.7% and OS was 46.8%. For all patients, overall 2-year local control, organ preservation, and OS rates were 85.6%, 75.6%, and 81.8% respectively. The rate of local failure-free organ preservation was 71.5%. Conclusion: For patients with T3/4 resectable nonlaryngeal head and neck cancers, planned clinical, radiographic, and pathologic restaging at 1 to 2 months after definitive RT provides the opportunity for early surgical salvage in those who fail at the primary site. This practice produces improved overall local control and survival rates compared with the literature reports for delayed attempted salvage with timing based on the findings of routine postradiation clinical surveillance. Future efforts may focus on the improved selection of patients who would be most likely to require early surgical intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-392
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Oncology: Cancer Clinical Trials
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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