To determine the recurrence and survival outcome based on treatment date, type of treatment, stage of disease, and comorbidity and the recurrence and survival differences based on smoking status as a surrogate for human papillomavirus status in veterans treated for tonsillar squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Outcome cohort study.
Tertiary care Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.
A consecutive sample from 1981 through 2006 of 683 patients treated for oropharyngeal SCC was screened, and 141 patients with tonsillar SCC without distant metastatic spread and a minimum of 2 years of follow-up were included.
Main Outcome Measures
Disease-free survival (DFS), disease-specific survival (DSS), and overall survival (OS).
Disease-free survival was significantly better in cohort II (treated during or after 1997) compared with cohort I (treated before 1997) (2- and 5-year DFS, 82% vs 64% and 67% vs 48%; P = .02). Disease-specific survival was better in the surgical vs nonsurgical group (2- and 5-year DSS, 77% vs 46% and 67% vs 30%; P < .001), as was the OS (2- and 5-year OS, 66% vs 41% and 45% vs 23%; P = .005). In subjects with early-stage disease, OS and DSS were not different regardless of treatment type. In subjects with late-stage disease treated most recently (time cohort II), there was significantly better DSS in those receiving surgical vs nonsurgical treatment (2-year DSS, 70% vs 43%; P = .045). Nonsmokers had better OS (94 months vs 41 months; P = .001) and lower incidence of recurrence (8% vs 44%; P = .02).
In veterans treated for tonsillar SCC, we advocate the consideration of a treatment plan that includes surgery for patients presenting with advanced-stage SCC of the tonsil, even in patients with notable comorbidities.