Chemoradiation for patients with advanced oral cavity cancer

Laryngoscope. 2010 Jan;120(1):93-9. doi: 10.1002/lary.20716.


Objectives/hypothesis: Patients with advanced oral cavity cancer (OCC) typically have not been enrolled in clinical trials utilizing contemporary multimodality strategies. There exist dogmatic expectations of inferior outcome in OCC patients secondary to ineffectiveness of treatment and unacceptable toxicity. The purpose of this study was to analyze survival, swallowing function, and incidence of osteoradionecrosis (ORN) of patients with stage III/IV OCC who have undergone primary concomitant chemoradiotherapy (CRT).

Methods: All advanced OCC patients who were enrolled in University of Chicago concomitant CRT protocols from 1994 to 2008 were reviewed. One hundred eleven newly diagnosed advanced OCC patients were evaluated. We performed a subset analysis of 27 additional advanced OCC patients who underwent surgery followed by postoperative CRT. Swallowing function was assessed via oropharyngeal motility study, and a Swallowing Performance Status Scale score was assigned. Presence of clinically significant ORN was documented.

Results: Median follow-up was 3.25 years. Five-year overall and progression-free survival was 66.9% and 65.9%, respectively. There was no difference in overall or progression-free survival when the surgery-first group was compared with the primary CRT group (P = .88 and P = .86 respectively). Function, without gastric tube requirement, was excellent, with 92.2% of patients able to maintain weight via oral route. Incidence of ORN was 18.4%, occurring in nine of 49 patients evaluated.

Conclusions: Our data support the use of primary CRT as a viable treatment option for patients with advanced OCC. Survival is high, and overall function for the majority of patients is satisfactory. Patients with T4 oral tongue cancer may be spared total glossectomy. The incidence of ORN may be considered acceptable, in light of the benefits of enduring life and function.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Deglutition / physiology
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Mouth Neoplasms / mortality
  • Mouth Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Mouth Neoplasms / surgery
  • Mouth Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Osteoradionecrosis / etiology
  • Tongue Neoplasms / therapy