Trans-oral robotic surgery (TORS) has emerged as an important surgical treatment option in the management of human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive and -negative oropharynx cancer. However, treatment selection is paramount to ensure that patients will not require multimodality adjuvant therapy. In this study, we determined predictors of adjuvant therapy in TORS-treated patients. The National Cancer Database (NCDB) was used to identify patients with newly diagnosed clinical T1-T4, N0-N3 oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma who underwent TORS between 2010-2016. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was used to estimate overall survival (OS). A total of 2999 patients were studied, and the five-year OS for the entire cohort was 82.5%, and for HPV-positive and -negative cohorts it was 88.3% and 67.9%, respectively (p < 0.001). Among all patients treated with TORS, 35.1% of patients received no additional treatment, 33.5% received adjuvant radiation alone (RT), and 31.3% received adjuvant chemoradiation. The N stage was pathologically upstaged in 629 (20.9%) patients after TORS. Patients treated at higher-volume centers were more likely to have negative surgical margins (OR: 0.96, 95% CI: 0.94, 0.98, p < 0.001), but this did not influence the receipt of adjuvant therapy. The high rate of adjuvant multimodality treatment after TORS suggests a need for improved patient selection. Limitations of this study, including lack of data on loco-regional control, progression free survival, acute and late toxicities, and utilization of pretreatment PET/CT imaging, should be addressed in future studies.
Keywords: TORS; adjuvant therapy; chemotherapy; radiation therapy.