Background: Our aim was to evaluate the therapeutic outcomes of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil that underwent tonsillectomies followed by radiotherapy.
Methods: A search of the database maintained within the Department of Radiation Oncology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center identified 120 patients with carcinoma of the tonsil who were irradiated between 1979 and 2004 following total gross removal of their disease by tonsillectomy.
Results: Thirty-six patients had stage III disease and 64 patients had stage IV disease. Only 12 patients received systemic chemotherapy. With median follow-up of 51 months, the 5-year local-regional control rate, recurrence-free survival rate, and overall survival rates were 97%, 92%, and 86%, respectively.
Conclusion: Patients who undergo tonsillectomies resulting in total gross removal of their primary disease followed by radiation have excellent outcomes. Our common practice is to deliver 66 Gy to the tonsillar bed. This practice has resulted in extremely high local control rates.