Model of an Advanced Practice Provider-Led Head and Neck Cancer Survivorship Clinic: Evaluation of a 4-Year Experience

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2022 Oct;167(4):699-704. doi: 10.1177/01945998221075004. Epub 2022 Jan 25.


Objective: To report the efficacy and safety of an advanced practice provider-led head and neck cancer survivorship clinic.

Study design: Retrospective chart review.

Setting: Tertiary academic medical center.

Methods: Patients were enrolled into the survivorship clinic after undergoing 1-year follow-up with the primary head and neck surgeon. Those enrolled between December 2016 and October 2020 were retrospectively reviewed for diagnosis, staging, pattern of recurrence, visit frequency, and compliance. Surgical respectability of recurrent disease was used as a surrogate for timely diagnosis.

Results: An overall 570 patients were followed within the survivorship clinic. The mean length of follow-up was 13.6 months. Mucosal primaries represented 72.6% of patients. A majority of the primary malignancies were squamous cell carcinoma (77.7%). The most common primary subsites were the oropharynx (26.7%), oral cavity (25.1%), cutaneous (17.0%), and larynx (15.3%). Recurrence was detected in 50 patients (8.8%): 26 local, 12 regional, and 14 distant. Two patients had multiple synchronous recurrences. Twelve (2.1%) second primary cancers were detected. Of the 36 cases of locoregional recurrence, 32 (88.9%) were deemed amenable to salvage surgical intervention, with or without adjuvant therapy. Negative margins were obtained in 21 of the 23 (91.3%) local recurrences that underwent salvage resection.

Conclusion: Advanced practice provider-based surveillance of head and neck cancer, without risk stratification, appears to be a sound model but needs further prospective evaluation. Consistent with literature, 88.9% of patients with locoregional recurrence were candidates for curative-intent salvage surgery, emphasizing that recurrences are identified in a timely fashion.

Keywords: advanced practice provider; cancer surveillance; head and neck cancer; survivorship.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / surgery
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Salvage Therapy
  • Survivorship