Does Age Impact Outcomes of Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma?

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Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys


Purpose/Objective(s): It is well-established that human papilloma virus (HPV) positive (+ve) oropharyngeal (OP) squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) carries a better overall prognosis than HPV negative (-ve) tumors. We sought to investigate the impact of age upon survival endpoints for HPV +ve and -ve OP SCC as well as the differences in acute radiotherapy (RT) toxicity. Materials/Methods: We included all OP SCC cases treated definitively between 2010-2017. All cases underwent either surgery ± adjuvant RT; or definitive RT; ± chemotherapy according to the multidisciplinary tumor board decision. After determining p16 status we dichotomized each HPV group by age at diagnosis into old (> or = 65 years) and young (<65 years) sub-groups. Patients' demographics, clinico-pathological data and treatment modalities were compared across age groups for both HPV sub-types. Log-rank test and Kaplan-Meier curves were utilized to measure effect of age on overall (OS), local recurrence free (LRFS) and distant metastases free (DMFS) survival for HPV +ve and -ve. For patients receiving RT we compared weight loss, feeding tube insertion, treatment breaks and hospitalization during RT as parameters for acute toxicity across age groups. Results: We identified 217 OP SCC who fit our inclusion criteria. Seventy percent were HPV+ve, males were 82%, mean age at diagnosis was 61 years, 75% were white, 67% were ever smokers and 54% were frequent/heavy alcohol drinkers. According to AJCC 7th edition, Stages III and IVA formed 87%; however, these were regrouped as stage I (51%) and stage IVA (62%) as prevalent stages for HPV+ve and -ve respectively as per AJCC 8th version. Definitive CRT was utilized in 58% and surgery ± adjuvant therapy in 31% of the study cohort. For HPV+ve sub-group, 31% were old (n=47); whereas they constituted 40% (n=27) of HPV-ve cases. Clinicopathological and treatment characteristics were generally equivalent among age groups except that HPV +ve younger patients had more adequate surgical margins (≥5mm) (78% vs 36%; p=0.03) than old; and HPV-ve old cases had a trend towards more utilization of concomitant cetuximab (30% vs 13%; p=0.09) than younger ones. All endpoints were not significantly different between old vs young HPV+ve cases with 2-year OS and LRFS of (64% vs 59%; p=0.41 and 88% vs 87%; p=0.98 for both respectively). Similar outcomes were observed between study age groups for HPV-ve cases (p>0.05 for all endpoints). Hospitalization during RT was more frequent in old patients (44% vs 28%; p=0.03). Median weight loss during RT was 9.5% (0-22%) vs 9.3% (0-17%) for old vs young (p=0.35) and RT breaks were also non-significant (39% vs 27%, p=0.8). Feeding tubes were inserted after RT initiation in 41% of old and 36% in young (p=0.5). Conclusion: Older patients with OP SCC have equivalent outcomes compared to younger ones irrespective of HPV status. Optimal treatments must be offered following standard of care as determined by a multi-disciplinary group of providers.





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