Adjuvant Radiation May Improve Survival in Head and Neck Cancer

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The benefit of adjuvant radiotherapy in this setting was previously unestablished.
The benefit of adjuvant radiotherapy in this setting was previously unestablished.
The following article features coverage from the American Head & Neck Society (AHNS) 2018 meeting. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor's conference coverage.

Adult patients with head and neck sarcoma with microscopic and macroscopic positive surgical margins may benefit from adjuvant radiotherapy, according to findings presented at the 2018 American Head & Neck Society Annual Meeting in National Harbor, Maryland.1

Positive margins post-surgery are associated with poor survival among patients with head and neck sarcoma, but the benefit of adjuvant radiotherapy was previously unestablished.

For this study, researchers evaluated the outcomes of 5950 adult patients who underwent surgery for head and neck sarcoma between 2004 and 2013. Of 1142 cases of positive surgical margins, 839 and 303 were microscopic and macroscopic, respectively. Overall, 356 patients were treated at community-based cancer programs and 969 at academic or research programs.

Patients with positive surgical margins who received adjuvant radiation therapy had improved overall survival (OS), at 5-years rates of 57% vs 48% (P = .002). Similar 5-year OS improvements were observed among patients with microscopic margins (57% vs 49%; P = .010) and macroscopic margins (57% vs 41%; P = .036).

After multivariate analysis, the improvement in 5-year OS was significant (hazard ratio [HR], 0.76; 95% CI, 0.64-0.90; P = .001).

Academic/research cancer programs were more likely to administer adjuvant radiotherapy (60%) compared with community based cancer programs (30%; P < .001).

The authors concluded that adjuvant radiation therapy “is associated with a significant survival benefit for adult head and neck sarcoma patients with both a microscopic and macroscopic positive surgical margin.”

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor's coverage of the American Head & Neck Society (AHNS) 2018 meeting by visiting the conference page.

Reference

  1. Cannon RB, Carpenter P, Kull AJ, et al. Adjuvant radiation for positive margins in adult H&N sarcomas is associated with improved survival: analysis of the National Cancer Database. Oral presentation at: 2018 American Head & Neck Society Annual Meeting; April 18-19, 2018; National Harbor, MD.

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