Cancers Head Neck 2017 14;2. Epub 2017 Nov 14.
Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, 600 Highland Avenue, K4/B100-0600, Madison, WI, Madison, WI 53792, USA.
Background: The present study evaluated clinical outcomes for patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma presenting with N3 nodal disease.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of N3 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients was performed. Pearson chi-square and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used to analyze patient demographics, disease characteristics, and treatment variables. Survival was evaluated using Kaplan-Meier curves with the log-rank test. Univariate analysis using Cox proportional hazards models was used to define factors associated with overall survival. Patient and tumor characteristics associated with treatment assignments were analyzed by univariate multinomial logistic regression.
Results: We identified 36 patients with radiographically-defined N3 disease. For the entire cohort, median follow-up was 23.6 (range 2.8-135.0) months, and overall survival was 60% at 2 years and 30% at 5 years. Overall survival was similar between patients receiving primary surgery, radiotherapy, or chemoradiotherapy ( = 0.10). Primary, regional, and distant control at 5 years was 71%, 66%, and 53%, respectively. There was a trend towards improved regional control with primary surgery ( = 0.07). Planned neck dissection following primary chemoradiotherapy did not improve regional control ( = 0.55). Patients with p16-positive tumors exhibited improved overall ( = 0.05) and metastatic recurrence-free survival ( < 0.05). There were no factors predictive of treatment assignment nor factors associated with overall survival, local and regional control, or distant metastases free-survival on univariate analysis.
Conclusions: Patients with N3 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma exhibit 5-year overall survival rates of approximately 30% regardless of treatment modality. Planned neck dissection does not improve regional control in patients undergoing definitive chemoradiotherapy. p16-positive patients represent a favorable cohort. Distant failure comprises the major failure pattern and should be the focus of future studies in improving the outcome of this patient cohort.