Objective: To compare survival among patients with head and neck cancer before and after implementing a weekly multidisciplinary clinic and case conference.
Methods: A retrospective cohort study with chart review was conducted of 3081 patients (1431 preimplementation, 1650 postimplementation) diagnosed with stage I-IVB tumors in the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, nasopharynx, or larynx. Pre- and postimplementation differences in overall and disease-specific survival 1, 2, and 3 years after diagnosis were assessed with unadjusted Kaplan-Meier curves and multivariable Cox proportional hazard regression models adjusted for demographic characteristics, comorbidity burden, smoking status, tumor site and stage, p16 status for oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer, and initial treatment modality.
Results: Patients less commonly presented with oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer and advanced tumors (III-IVB) and received primary treatment with surgery alone or with adjuvant therapy preimplementation than postimplementation. Overall survival at 3 years was 77.1% and 79.9% (P = .07) and disease-specific survival was 84.9% and 87.5% (P = .05) among pre- and postimplementation patients, respectively. At 3 years, preimplementation patients had slightly poorer overall (hazard ratio, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.02-1.40) and disease-specific (hazard ratio, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.03-1.54) adjusted survival than postimplementation patients. In unadjusted and adjusted analyses, survival improvements were more pronounced among patients with advanced disease.
Discussion: A multidisciplinary clinic and case conference were associated with improved outcomes among patients with head and neck cancer, especially those with advanced tumors.
Implications for practice: All patients with head and neck cancer should receive multidisciplinary team management, especially those with advanced tumors.
Keywords: head and neck cancer; multidisciplinary management; quality of care; survival; tumor board.