Approach to oligometastatic disease in head and neck cancer, on behalf of the GORTEC

Future Oncol. 2018 Apr;14(9):877-889. doi: 10.2217/fon-2017-0468. Epub 2018 Mar 26.


Median survival for recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) patients is about 10 months after first-line best systemic treatment. We aimed to assess current approaches of oligometastatic HNSCC patients by the analysis of current concept and published data (1995-2017) in this population. Five-year survival rates are over 20% in selected patients who undergo metastasis-directed therapy by either surgery or stereotactic irradiation. Human papillomavirus(+) HNSCC patients have more disseminated metastases but respond more favorably and also benefit from ablative treatments. Treatments of oligometastases are expanding rapidly. Unmet needs include revised imaging follow-up strategies to detect metastases earlier, identification of predictive noninvasive biomarkers for treatment guidance, assessment and corrections of biases in current studies and randomized clinical trials.

Keywords: ablative treatment; head and neck cancer; immunotherapy; metastasectomy; metastases; metastasis-directed treatment; oligometastases; stereotactic irradiation.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / genetics
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / genetics
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / radiotherapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery
  • Radiosurgery
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck


  • Biomarkers, Tumor