Date: 08 Jul 2005

Oropharyngeal carcinoma and its treatment in Finland between 1995–1999: a nationwide study

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The survival figures for advanced stage oropharyngeal carcinoma (OPC) have remained moderate in spite of radical combined modality treatments. The purpose of this study was to investigate the used treatment approach and the outcome of OPC in a nationwide study. Retrospective clinicopathological data of all patients diagnosed with OPC between 1995 and 1999 at the five university hospitals in Finland were reviewed. All patients had a minimum 4-year follow-up. A total of 168 patients (145 men and 23 women, mean age 59 years; range 28 – 89 years) were included. The T categories were as follows: T1, n =34; T2, n =55; T3, n =40; T4, n =39. One hundred and seventeen (69.6%) patients presented with neck node metastases and three (1.8%) patients with distant metastases. In the majority (61.3%) of the patients the tumor was located in the lateral wall of the oropharynx. In 144 (85.7%) patients the treatment was performed with curative intent. Of these, surgery of the primary tumor was performed in 123 (85.4%) patients, and the defect was reconstructed with a pedicled flap or free tissue transfer in 66 (53.7%) of these patients. A neck dissection (ND) was performed in 86 (69.9%) out of these 123 cases. Surgery was the only treatment modality in 10 (6.9%) patients. Radiation therapy (RT) only (with or without chemotherapy) was given to 21 (14.6%), combined treatment with surgery + radiation therapy (S + RT) to 110 (76.4%) and surgery + chemoradiotherapy (S + CRT) to 3 (2.1%) patients. Overall (OS) 3- and 5-year survival rates were 58 and 45%, respectively. Disease-specific (DSS) 5-year survival rates by T-class for the patients treated with curative intent were as follows: T1, 77%; T2, 70%; T3, 66%; T4, 53%. The variable treatment approach, the frequent locoregional recurrences and the moderate survival point out the need to consider new strategies in the management of OPC.