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Laryngoscope. 2007 Jan;117(1):45-50.

Locally advanced tonsillar squamous cell carcinoma: Treatment approach revisited.

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Southern Zone Radiation Oncology, Mater Queensland Radium Institute, South Brisbane, Australia.



The purpose of this study was to review the treatment policy for locally advanced stage III and IV squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the tonsil at the Princess Alexandra Hospital Head and Neck Unit, Brisbane, Australia.


The records of 148 patients with curable stage III and IV SCC of the tonsil were reviewed from the years 1992 to 2004 inclusive. During this period, patients were treated with surgery and postoperative radiotherapy and only offered definitive radiation if they were medically or surgically inoperable. There were 102 patients treated with surgery +/- postoperative radiotherapy (group 1) and 46 patients treated with definitive radiotherapy +/- chemotherapy (group 2). The endpoints of locoregional control (LRC), disease specific survival (DSS), and overall survival (OS) were studied and prognostic factors were investigated with univariate and multivariate analyses.


The 5-year OS, DSS, and LRC were 57%, 69%, and 84%, respectively. Univariate analyses showed that patients in group 1 had a superior OS (69% vs. 41%, P = .007), a trend toward improvement in LRC (88% vs. 73%, P = .08), and a nonsignificant improvement in DSS (75% vs. 56%, P = .14). There was a greater percentage of patients with an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) score of 2 or less in group 1, suggesting selection bias toward the surgical group. Multivariate analyses, which adjusted for known prognostic factors, showed that treatment group was significant for OS but not for LRC or DSS.


Surgery and postoperative radiotherapy continues to provide a superior outcome in locally advanced tonsil SCC in patients with surgically resectable disease, good ECOG performance status, and medically operable.

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