Role of surgery in limited (T1-2, N0-1) cancers of the oropharynx

Rohan R. Walvekar, Ryan J. Li, William E. Gooding, Michael K. Gibson, Dwight Heron, Jonas T. Johnson, Robert L. Ferris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Hypothesis: To define the role of surgical staging in limited (T1-2, N0-1) oropharyngeal squamous cell cancers. Study Design: Retrospective. Methods: Forty-nine limited oropharyngeal squamous cell cancers of the tonsil, tongue base, or posterior pharyngeal wall-treated surgically were identified. Results: Thirty-five percent were cT1 and 65% were cT2 tumors although 58% were cNO and 42% were cN1. Forty-six patients underwent neck dissections. Surgical staging altered T-stage in 26% (13/49), nodal status in 23% (11/46), and clinical staging in 40% (20/49) of patients. Among 35 disease-free patients, 28% (4/20) of stage I/II patients received postoperative radiation and chemotherapy was avoided in 80% (12/15) of stage III patients. II tumors seemed to have better outcomes (P=.06). The 3 year disease-free survival and 5 year overall survival was 85% and 83%, respectively. Conclusions: Surgical staging identifies patients in whom intensification of treatment with chemotherapy can be most appropriately applied, and enables deintensification of therapy in pathology confirmed stage I/II disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2129-2134
Number of pages6
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Early
  • Limited
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Surgical therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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