Short- and long-term outcomes of oropharyngeal cancer care in the elderly

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9 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine associations between pretreatment variables, short-term and long-term swallowing and airway impairment, and survival in elderly patients (age > 65 years) treated for oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer (SCCA). Study Design: Retrospective analysis of Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare data. Methods: Longitudinal data from 666 patients diagnosed with oropharyngeal SCCA from 2004 to 2007 were evaluated using cross-tabulations, multivariate logistic regression, and survival analysis. Results: Dysphagia (odds ratio [OR] = 1.3, 1.0–1.7), esophageal stricture (OR = 5.5, 2.6–11.9), and airway obstruction (OR = 1.6, 1.1–2.2) increased 1 year after treatment. The odds of airway obstruction, esophageal stricture, and pneumonia increased over subsequent years, with significantly increased risk at 5 years for airway obstruction (OR = 3.0, 1.4–6.4), pneumonia (OR = 4.5, 1.8–11.2), and stricture (OR = 5.5, 1.8–17.6). Pretreatment dysphagia was a significant predictor of long-term dysphagia, airway obstruction, and pneumonia. Chemoradiation, advanced stage disease, high-volume hospital care, male sex, and salvage surgery were significant predictors of long-term gastrostomy use. Long-term dysphagia, gastrostomy or tracheostomy dependence, weight loss, airway obstruction, and pneumonia were associated with poorer survival, with tracheostomy dependence (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.2, 1.7–2.9) and pneumonia (HR = 2.0, 1.7–2.4) associated with the greatest risk of late mortality. Conclusion: Airway and swallowing impairment is common after treatment of oropharyngeal SCCA in elderly patients, increases over time, and is associated with poorer survival. Patients with pretreatment dysphagia, advanced stage disease, initial treatment with chemoradiation, and salvage surgery represent a high-risk group with an increased risk of disability and death. Level of Evidence: 2c. Laryngoscope, 128:2084–2093, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2084-2093
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • SEER-Medicare
  • aspiration
  • chemotherapy
  • dysphagia
  • elderly
  • gastrostomy
  • outcomes
  • pneumonia
  • radiation
  • squamous cell cancer
  • surgery
  • survival
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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