Cancers (Basel) 2019 Dec 29;12(1). Epub 2019 Dec 29.
Department of Clinical Oncology, Leeds Cancer Centre, Leeds LS97TF, UK.
The influence of retropharyngeal lymph node (RPLN) involvement on prognosis in oropharyngeal carcinoma remains poorly defined. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of RPLN involvement upon outcomes. A single-centre retrospective analysis of 402 patients with oropharyngeal carcinoma treated nonsurgically between 2010 and 2017 was performed. All had a baseline 2-[fluorine-18]-fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose (FDG) PET-CT and contrast-enhanced MRI and/or CT. RPLN status was determined by radiology review of cases with reported abnormal RPLN. Multivariate backwards logistic regression was used to examine impact on outcomes of factors. Abnormal RPLNs were identified in 40/402 (10%) of patients. Median follow up was 42.9 months. RPLN involvement was associated with inferior 3 year outcomes for overall survival (OS) (67.1% vs. 79.1%, = 0.006) and distant metastases-free survival (DMFS) (73.9% versus 88.0%, = 0.011), with no significant difference in local control (81.6% vs. 87.7%, = 0.154) or regional control (80.7% vs. 85.4%, = 0.252). On multivariate analysis abnormal RPLN, no concurrent chemotherapy and ongoing smoking were associated with inferior DMFS and OS, while advanced T stage was also associated with inferior OS. In summary, RPLN involvement, present in 10% of patients, was an independent prognostic factor for the development of distant disease failure translating into inferior OS. These findings need confirmation in future studies.