Postoperative strategies after primary surgery for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

Oral Oncol. 2010 Aug;46(8):577-85. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2010.03.023. Epub 2010 Apr 18.


This review discusses the role of adjuvant treatment after curative surgery for patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). In general, patients with unfavourable prognostic factors have a high-risk of loco-regional recurrence and subsequent worse survival after surgery alone and are therefore considered proper candidates for adjuvant treatment by either postoperative radiotherapy alone or postoperative chemoradiation. Selection of the most optimal adjuvant treatment strategy should be based on the most important prognostic factors. In this review, the different treatment strategies will be discussed in general. More specifically, we will discuss the role of the interval between surgery and radiotherapy, the overall treatment time of radiation, the selection of target volumes for radiation and the value of adding concomitant chemotherapy to postoperative radiation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / methods
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control
  • Postoperative Care / methods
  • Postoperative Period
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant / methods
  • Treatment Outcome