Background: The impact of close surgical margins on oncologic outcomes in HPV-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (HPV + OPSCC) is unclear.
Methods: Retrospective case series including patients undergoing single modality transoral robotic surgery (TORS) for HPV + OPSCC at three academic medical centers from 2010 to 2019. Outcomes were compared between patients with close surgical margins (<1 mm or requiring re-resection) and clear margins using the Kaplan-Meier method.
Results: Ninety-nine patients were included (median follow-up 21 months, range 6-121). Final margins were close in 22 (22.2%) patients, clear in 75 (75.8%), and positive in two (2.0%). Eight patients (8.1%) recurred, including two local recurrences (2.0%). Four patients died during the study period (4.0%). Local control (p = 0.470), disease-free survival (p = 0.513), and overall survival (p = 0.064) did not differ between patients with close and clear margins.
Conclusions: Patients with close surgical margins after TORS for HPV + OPSCC without concurrent indications for adjuvant therapy may be considered for observation alone.
Keywords: human papillomavirus; oropharynx; squamous cell carcinoma; surgical margins; transoral robotic surgery.
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