Systematic review of neuroendocrine carcinomas of the oropharynx

Head Neck. 2022 Jul;44(7):1725-1736. doi: 10.1002/hed.27055. Epub 2022 Apr 18.


Data describing features and management of oropharyngeal neuroendocrine carcinomas (NEC) remain sparse. A systematic review was performed. Patients were stratified by treatment modality and examined for disease progression and survival outcomes. Ninety-four patients from 50 publications were included. Average age at diagnosis was 59.7 years (range 14-83). 73.4% were male. Most studies did not document HPV status. Forty patients (85.1%) were p16 positive, and 34 (85.0%) were HPV-ISH positive. Overall survival was 75.4% at 1 year, and 40.0% at 2 years. Of patients with locoregional disease, 33.8% developed distant metastasis. 12.5% of patients developed locoregional recurrence. Patients who developed distant metastases had worse overall survival (p = 0.0004). No significant difference was found between treatment modalities. Human papilloma virus may be associated with oropharyngeal NEC. Current treatments provide locoregional control, but distant metastases are common and confer low overall survival.

Keywords: chemotherapy; evidence-based medicine; neuroendocrine carcinoma; oropharynx; radiation therapy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine* / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine* / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Papillomaviridae
  • Papillomavirus Infections* / complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult