A new study from researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas found no major long-term differences in the effectiveness of radiation therapy versus surgery in treating oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC). Given these results, investigators suggest quality-of-life factors should help inform a treatment decision.
The findings compared the effectiveness of definitive radiotherapy with primary surgery. The investigators performed a comparative effectiveness analysis in patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma, focusing on survival, side effects, and costs. The study merged the HealthCore Integrated Research Database with state cancer registry data to identify 884 patients diagnosed with OPSCC from 2007 to 2014. The authors found no statistical differences between radiotherapy versus surgery in overall survival, long-term gastrostomy dependence, esophageal dilation or restriction, and bone toxicity effects. There was, however, an increase in acute gastrostomy use among radiotherapy patients who also received chemotherapy.
“While historical treatment outcomes for oropharyngeal cancer were quite poor, the combination of treatment innovations and more favorable tumor biology have resulted in three-year survival for more than 75% of patients in this analysis,” said David Sher, MD, MPH, associate professor of radiation oncology in the department of clinical science at UT Southwestern, and first author of the study.