Disease Characteristics, Treatment and Survival for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Elderly

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys


Purpose/Objective(s): Incidence of oropharyngeal cancers (OP) has been increasing over the past few decades, mainly driven by human papilloma virus (HPV) associated cancers in younger men. However, a large number of OP patients in recent years are ≥65 years of age. We wanted to determine if there is a difference in outcomes in elderly patients with OP as compared to younger patients. Materials/Methods: We queried our institutional prospectively maintained head and neck cancer database for patients with non-metastatic OP treated between 1/2009-6/2020. We excluded patients who did not receive any definitive treatment. We analyzed clinicopathological and treatment characteristics for elderly (age at diagnosis ≥65 years) compared to young (<65 years) across HPV subtypes. We also studied survival endpoints among age groups using Kaplan-Meier curves and log-rank test. Independent predictors were estimated using multivariate (MVA) Cox regression models for each HPV subtype. Results: We identified 340 patients who met our inclusion criteria: elderly 123 (36%) and young 213 (64%). The proportion of elderly HPV+ve patients showed an increasing trend over the years studied. Median age was 70 years (range 65-91) in elderly and 56 years (38-64) in young (p<0.001); and HPV+ve/-ve were 73.2/26.8% vs 74.6/25.3% for both age groups respectively (p = 0.86). Elderly patients had higher Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) and included more divorcees (p<0.05). There were more elderly current/former smokers (97% vs 82%; p = 0.007) within HPV-ve cases. Definitive radiotherapy (RT) +/- systemic therapy (CRT) was utilized in 73.2% (n = 249), while the remainder had surgery +/- adjuvant RT/CRT. There was no difference with age for OP subsite, 8th edition AJCC stage and treatment received except for more use of cetuximab (22.5% vs 10.2%; p<0.001) and weekly cisplatin (32.4% vs 25.8%; p<0.001) among elderly patients. After a median follow up of 5.24 years (IQR: 3.53), 3-year overall (OS) (HPV+ve: 85 vs 81%; HPV-ve: 39 vs 52%), locoregional free (LRFS) (HPV+ve: 86 vs 90%; HPV-ve: 67 vs 69%) and distant metastasis free (DMFS) survival (HPV+ve: 91 vs 90%; HPV-ve: 79 vs 81%) were all non-significant for elderly vs young respectively. On MVA, CCI and AJCC stage for HPV+ve; and smoking, T-stage and lymphovascular space invasion for HPV- were associated with OS. For HPV+ve, AJCC stage, adjuvant vs definitive RT and treatment in later years were predictive of better LRFS, whereas smoking index and extracapsular space invasion were deterministic for DMFS. Interestingly, outcomes among those who received cetuximab was similar to those who received concurrent cisplatin for all endpoints. Conclusion: We did not note any significant difference in outcomes among elderly patients treated for OP when compared to the younger patients when multi-disciplinary head and neck cancer care is provided. This was noted even though a significantly larger proportion of elderly patients received cetuximab concurrent with RT as opposed to standard of care cisplatin.





First Page