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Introduction: Patients who undergo solid organ transplants have a higher risk of developing malignancies and subsequent recurrences. Clinical outcomes in transplant recipients with primary mucosal head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) are not well described in the published literature. Therefore, we retrospectively studied the outcomes in this group of patients.

Methods: This Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved analysis included patients who had previously undergone solid organ transplants and subsequently were diagnosed with primary mucosal HNSCC between 2006 and 2021. Our institutional database of solid organ transplant recipients was cross-referenced with our head and neck cancer database to identify the patients included in this cohort. In addition, Kaplan-Meier analyses were performed to calculate overall and disease-free survival.

Results: Of 1,221 patients, 20 met the inclusion criteria. The median time from organ transplant to HNSCC diagnosis was 5.9 years (range: 0.5-18.5 years). A total of 11 (55.0%) and 9 (45.0%) patients presented with localized and locally advanced disease, respectively. Two-year overall and disease-free survivals were 59.1% and 73.5%, respectively. After initial treatment, six (30.0%) patients experienced a recurrence. All patients who developed a recurrence died within the follow-up period. The median time of death after recurrence for all six patients was 11.5 months (range: 2-22 months).

Conclusion: This series highlights a high mortality rate following recurrence among patients with primary mucosal HNSCC and a solid organ transplant history. A better understanding of how solid organ transplant history adversely impacts the course of HNSCC could help properly guide treatment, follow-up, and survivorship decisions.

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