Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Am J Clin Oncol


Background: Unique challenges surround treatment for residual or recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Of the limited treatment options for residual or recurrent HNSCC, salvage surgery is often the best option. However, salvage surgery can result in significant morbidity, affecting both quality of life (QoL) and functional outcomes. Few studies have examined QoL outcomes following salvage surgery in the setting of HNSCC.

Objectives: To analyze head and neck related quality of life and functional outcomes in patients with head and neck cancer who underwent salvage surgery.

Methods: In this IRB approved study, FACT-HN Version 4 was administered pre-operatively and 6 months post-operatively to patients undergoing salvage surgery for HNSCC between November 4, 2014 and April 27, 2020. Retrospective cohort analysis was performed on this population with major outcome being postoperative QoL score. Functional outcomes included postoperative tracheostomy and feeding tube status. QoL outcomes were compared with paired t-tests. Univariate logistic regression was used to determine characteristics associated with presence of permanent tracheostomy and feeding tube, defined as presence greater than 30 days.

Results: Overall, 25 patients undergoing salvage surgery for HNSCC were included in this analysis. Primary tumor sites were larynx/hypopharynx (44.0%), oral cavity (24.0%), oropharynx (20.0%), salivary (4.0%), skin (4.0%), and unknown primary (4.0%). Salvage surgeries consisted of total laryngectomy (36.0%), definitive neck dissection (24.0%), mandibulectomy (16.0%), parotidectomy (8.0%), with total laryngectomy/total glossectomy, radical tonsillectomy, TORS base of tongue excision, and transoral laser laryngeal excision all comprising 4% of cases. Total QoL scores were not significantly different preoperatively to postoperatively (mean 108.7, 95% CI=97.7 to 119.7 vs. 103.8, 95% CI: 93.1 to 114.5; P=0.436, with maximum total score of 148). Patients with lower preoperative Emotional Well-Being (EWB) subscores demonstrated significantly worse EWB subscores postoperatively (postoperative mean: 17.0, 95% CI: 14.5 to 19.4 vs. 21.7, 95% CI: 20.0 to 23.4; P=0.002). Of patients who underwent tracheostomy tube placement, 53.8% (N=7/13) remained tracheostomy dependent long-term (>30 d). Of patients who underwent feeding tube placement, 81.0% (N=17/21) remained feeding tube dependent long-term (>30 d). Tracheostomy and feeding tubes remained in place with median durations of 3.02 months (range 0.16 to 20.55) and 10.13 months (range 0 to 24.89), respectively. All patients with T3/4 disease undergoing salvage surgery required long-term feeding tube (N=6).

Conclusions: This study provides important information about quality of life and functional outcomes for patients undergoing salvage surgery for HNSCC. There is a high rate of long-term tracheostomy and feeding tube dependence following salvage surgery. While no difference was found in head and neck related quality of life total score and sub-scores at 6 months postoperatively, general emotional well-being preoperatively was most associated with general emotional well-being postoperatively. This information should be taken into consideration when counseling and managing patients with residual or recurrent HNSCC.





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