To compare functional outcome and quality of life after various treatments for squamous cell carcinoma of the base of the tongue.
Retrospective survey using statistical comparison.
Academic medical center, institutional practice.
Patients treated for squamous cell carcinoma of the base of the tongue between 1976 and 2000. Living patients 3 or more months after treatment were eligible. Questionnaire packets including validated site-specific quality-of-life instruments were mailed to 105 qualifying patients. Sixty-one patients participated, forming a volunteer sample. Patient responses were grouped according to treatment modality, operative vs nonoperative.
Main Outcome Measures
The planned outcome was that nonoperative therapy would result in better function than operative treatment.
Most comparisons indicated no statistical difference in outcome between operative and nonoperative groups. Significant differences (95% confidence interval) were calculated for age, interval since treatment, and T stage. Group comparisons of patient responses revealed significant differences only in xerostomia and days hospitalized.
The tongue remains dysfunctional after both surgical and nonoperative treatment. Nonoperative treatment might more adversely affect saliva. Surgery is associated with a longer hospital stay.