Purpose: To evaluate the significant prognosticators in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).
Methods and materials: From 1984 to 1989, 903 treatment-naive nondisseminated (MO) NPC were given primary radical radiotherapy to 60-62.5 Gy in 6 weeks. All patients had computed tomographic (CT) and endoscopic evaluation of the primary tumor. Potentially significant parameters (the patient's age and sex, the anatomical structures infiltrated by the primary lesion, the cervical nodal characteristics, the tumor histological subtypes, and various treatment variables were analyzed by both monovariate and multivariate methods for each of the five clinical endpoints: actuarial survival, disease-free survival, free from distant metastasis, free from local failure, and free from regional failure.
Results: The significant prognosticators predicting for an increased risk of distant metastases and poorer survival included male sex, skull base and cranial nerve(s) involvement, advanced Ho's N level, and presence of fixed or partially fixed nodes or nodes contralateral to the side of the bulk of the nasopharyngeal primary. Advanced patient age led to significantly worse survival and poorer local tumor control. Local and regional failures were both increased by tumor infiltrating the skull base and/or the cranial nerves. In addition, regional failure was increased significantly by advancing Ho's N level. Parapharyngeal tumor involvement was the strongest independent prognosticator that determined distant metastasis and survival rates in the absence of the overriding prognosticators of skull base infiltration, cranial nerve(s) palsy, and cervical nodal metastasis.
Conclusions: The significant prognosticators are delineated after the advent of CT and these should form the foundation of the modern stage classification for NPC.