More than 400,000 cases of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) are diagnosed each year worldwide and the incidence is rising, partly as a result of human papillomavirus. Human papillomavirus-associated OPSCC affects younger patients and often presents at a higher stage; however, it is associated with a better prognosis.Until recently, first-line management of OPSCC involved chemoradiotherapy, as research had demonstrated comparable survival outcomes when compared with open surgery, with significantly decreased morbidity. However, interventions have now evolved with computerised planning and intensity-modulated radiotherapy, and the advent of endoscopic head and neck surgery, which provide the potential for decreased treatment-associated morbidity.The oropharynx plays an essential role in swallowing, speech and protecting the airway as it is situated at the bifurcation of the respiratory and digestive tracts. Treatment modality recommendations are based on survival outcomes. Given the younger patient demographic, establishing the safety of modalities that potentially have better functional outcome is becoming increasingly important.
To assess the efficacy of endoscopic head and neck surgery (transoral robotic surgery or transoral laser microsurgery) for small-volume, primary (T1-2, N0-2) oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) in comparison to radiotherapy/chemoradiotherapy.
The Cochrane ENT Information Specialist searched the ENT Trials Register; Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL 2016, Issue 10); PubMed; EMBASE; CINAHL; Web of Science; ClinicalTrials.gov; ICTRP and additional sources for published and unpublished trials. The date of the search was 8 November 2016.
Randomised controlled trials in patients with carcinoma in the oropharynx subsite (as defined by the World Health Organization classification C09, C10). Cancers included were primary squamous cell carcinomas arising from the oropharyngeal mucosa. The tumours were classified as T1-T2 with or without nodal disease and with no evidence of distant metastatic spread. The intervention was transoral, minimally invasive surgery with or without adjuvant radiotherapy or adjuvant chemoradiotherapy. The comparator was primary radiotherapy with or without induction or concurrent chemotherapy for the tumour. The treatments received and compared were of curative intent and patients had not undergone prior intervention, other than diagnostic biopsy.
We used the standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane. Our primary outcomes were overall survival (disease-related mortality was to be studied where possible), locoregional control, disease-free survival and progression-free survival or time to recurrence. All outcomes were to be measured at two, three and five years after diagnosis. Our secondary outcomes included quality of life, harms associated with treatment, patient satisfaction and xerostomia score.
No completed studies met the inclusion criteria for the review. Two ongoing trials fulfilled the selection criteria, however neither are complete.'Early-stage squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx: radiotherapy versus trans-oral robotic surgery (ORATOR)' is a phase II randomised controlled trial comparing primary radiation therapy with primary transoral robotic surgery for small-volume primary (T1-2, N0-2) OPSCC. It is currently in progress with an estimated completion date of June 2021.'European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer 1420 (EORTC 1420-HNCG-ROG)' is a phase III, randomised study assessing the "best of" radiotherapy compared to transoral robotic surgery/transoral laser microsurgery in patients with T1-T2, N0 squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx and base of tongue. It was due to start accrual mid-2016.
The role of endoscopic head and neck surgery in the management of OPSCC is clearly expanding as evidenced by its more overt incorporation into the current National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines. Data are mounting regarding its outcomes both in terms of survival and lower morbidity. As confidence increases, it is being used in the management of more advanced OPSCC.Based on this review, there is currently no high-quality evidence from randomised controlled trials regarding clinical outcomes for patients with oropharyngeal cancer receiving endoscopic head and neck surgery compared with primary chemoradiotherapy.