Salvage Surgery With Free Flap Reconstruction: Factors Affecting Outcome After Treatment of Recurrent Head and Neck Squamous Carcinoma

Laryngoscope. 2007 Jun;117(6):1019-23. doi: 10.1097/MLG.0b013e3180536705.


Objective: To determine factors predicting the outcome after salvage surgery with microvascular flap reconstruction for recurrent squamous cell cancer (SCC) of the head and neck.

Study design: This is a retrospective analysis of patients treated at an academic medical center.

Methods: One hundred six patients underwent salvage surgery and microvascular flap reconstruction after prior unsuccessful cancer treatment using surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. All patients had a follow-up interval after salvage surgery of at least 24 months unless cancer rerecurrence occurred within 24 months after salvage surgery. Factors including age, sex, comorbidity level, tobacco use, alcohol use, disease-free interval since prior therapy, prior radiation, prior chemotherapy, prior surgery, recurrent tumor T class, recurrent tumor N class, recurrent cancer stage, and tumor location were examined to determine their association with cancer rerecurrence after salvage surgery. Successful treatment was defined as patients who remained free from cancer rerecurrence for a minimum 2 year period after salvage surgery.

Results: Advanced recurrent T class (P = .02) was significantly associated with cancer recurrence. Recurrent cancer stage and patient smoking status approached statistical significance (P = .06).

Conclusion: Patients with recurrent T1 and T2 class are the best candidates for salvage surgery and microvascular flap reconstruction for treatment of recurrent SCC of the head and neck. Patients with T3 and T4 class recurrent cancers and patients who continue to smoke after initial diagnosis and treatment of head and neck SCC are poor candidates to undergo salvage surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsurgery / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Radiotherapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Salvage Therapy / methods*
  • Skin Transplantation / methods*
  • Surgical Flaps*
  • Survival Rate