Treatment Patterns in Veterans with Laryngeal and Oropharyngeal Cancer and Impact on Survival

Laryngoscope Investig Otolaryngol. 2018 Aug 9;3(4):275-282. doi: 10.1002/lio2.170. eCollection 2018 Aug.


Objectives: Veterans with laryngeal and oropharyngeal cancer remain an understudied patient population despite a high incidence of disease and decreased survival compared to the general population. Our objective was to evaluate treatment patterns for laryngeal and oropharyngeal cancer in patients treated at one of the Veterans Health Administration's busiest cancer centers in order to generate some basic benchmarks for treatment delivery in the veteran population.

Methods: We reviewed 338 patients treated at the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center between 2000 and 2012.

Results: Oropharyngeal site and advanced age were associated with worse overall and disease-free survival. Treatment periods (mean) were as follows: 1) referral-diagnosis, 26 days; 2) diagnosis-surgery, 29 days; and 3) diagnosis-radiation, 58 days. Adjuvant radiation was initiated within 6 weeks of surgery in 42% of patients and 68% of patients had a total treatment package time ≤100 days. Time from diagnosis to treatment initiation, surgery to adjuvant radiation interval and total treatment package time did not impact survival.

Conclusions: This study establishes basic benchmarks for laryngeal and oropharyngeal cancer treatment delivery in veterans. Additional efforts are warranted to improve consistency and provide treatment in line with NCCN recommendations and literature consensus.

Level of evidence: 2b.

Keywords: Veteran; laryngeal cancer; oropharyngeal cancer; radiation; treatment package.