Outcomes in surgically resectable oropharynx cancer treated with transoral robotic surgery versus definitive chemoradiation

Bhaswanth Dhanireddy, Nicolas P. Burnett, Sreeja Sanampudi, Charles E. Wooten, Jon Slezak, Brent Shelton, Lauren Shelton, Andrew Shearer, Susanne Arnold, Mahesh Kudrimoti, Thomas J. Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Purpose: Optimal treatment strategies for the management of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) remain unclear. The objective of this study is to examine the role of transoral robotic surgery (TORS) on functional and treatment outcomes. Materials and methods: A retrospective review of patients with OPSCC (tonsil/base of tongue) who underwent TORS with neck dissection± adjuvant therapy between January 2011 to December 2016 were compared to a stage matched cohort of patients treated with primary chemoradiation. Demographic, treatment, and outcome data were collected. Results: 54 patients received primary chemoradiation and 65 patients (surgical group) received TORS ± adjuvant therapy for clinically staged disease meeting study criteria. 25% (N = 17) were treated with surgery alone. The remainder of the surgical group received postoperative radiation (N = 48), half of which received adjuvant chemotherapy (N = 24) in addition to radiation. 63% (N = 41) of the patients did not have risk factors for chemotherapy. No differences in overall or disease free survival were observed with TORS compared to chemoradiation (p = 0.9), although Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) was higher in the surgical group (p = 0.01). The strongest predictor of prolonged gastrostomy tube use was not treatment, but rather co-morbidity (p = 0.03), with no significant differences beyond 12 months. Conclusion: Although no significant survival differences were observed across treatment groups, this was maintained despite increased comorbidity index in the surgical patients. Given the ability to de-escalate and/or eliminate adjuvant therapy, particularly in a less healthy population, TORS would appear to be the viable treatment option it has become.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-677
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Inc.


  • Chemoradiation and intensity modulated radiation therapy
  • Neck dissection
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • TORS
  • Transoral robotic surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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