Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Font Size

    Oropharyngeal Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview

    An optimal therapeutic approach to the oropharynx is not easily defined because no single therapeutic regimen offers a clear-cut, superior-survival advantage over other regimens. The literature is filled with reports highlighting various therapeutic options but does not contain reports presenting any valid comparative studies of therapeutic options. The ultimate therapeutic choice depends on a careful review of each case, attention to the staging of the neoplasm, the general physical condition of the patient, the emotional status of the patient, the experience of the treating team, and the available treatment facilities.

    Treatment Overview

    Recommended Related to Cancer

    Ewing Sarcoma

    Important It is possible that the main title of the report Ewing Sarcoma is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

    Read the Ewing Sarcoma article > >

    Traditionally, surgery and radiation therapy have been the standards for treatment of oropharyngeal cancers. No randomized data are available to compare surgery, radiation therapy, or combined treatment.

    A pooled analysis of 6,400 patients from 51 reported series who were treated for base-of-tongue oropharyngeal carcinoma between 1970 and 2000 demonstrated local control rates of 79% (surgery ± radiation) and 76% (radiation), (P = .087); locoregional control was 60% versus 69% (P = .009); 5-year survival was 49% for surgery with or without radiation therapy versus 52% (P = .2) for radiation therapy with or without neck dissection.[1] Severe complications were 32% for the surgery group versus 3.8% for the radiation therapy group (P < .001); fatal complications were 3.5% for the surgery group versus 0.4% for the radiation therapy group (P < .001). Similar findings showed equivalent overall and cause-specific survival between surgery versus radiation for tonsil carcinoma; however, 23% overall and cause-specific survival for severe complications in the surgery group versus 6% overall and cause-specific survival in the radiation therapy group (P < .001).

    For patients with early-stage disease, single-modality treatment, usually radiation therapy alone, is preferred; however, emerging surgical techniques, including transoral surgery and transoral robotic surgery, are currently evolving. Nonrandomized comparisons suggest superior quality of life with minimally invasive surgical techniques.[2] Historically, more invasive surgical techniques were associated with inferior quality of life and greater morbidity.

    Historically, the post-therapy performance status of patients with base-of-tongue primary tumors appeared to be better after radiation therapy than after surgery. Local control and survival is similar in both treatment options.[3,4] Prospective multicenter trials, including RTOG-1221 (NCT01953952) and ECOG-3311 (NCT01898494), are currently underway comparing transoral surgery approaches with definitive radiation or chemoradiation.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Real Cancer Perspectives
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    what is your cancer risk
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    prostate cancer overview
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    Actor Michael Douglas