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Treatment Outcome in Head and Neck Cancer With Distant Metastasis at Initial Diagnosis.

Laryngoscope 2023 September 13
OBJECTIVE: Recurrent/metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) treatment has changed dramatically with the introduction of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). However, there are few reports of treatment outcomes on HNSCC with distant metastasis (M1) at initial diagnosis, and its treatment strategy has not been standardized. We aimed to analyze the treatment outcome and prognostic factors of patients with HNSCC with initial M1 disease.

METHODS: In this multi-institutional retrospective study, 98 patients with HNSCC were initially diagnosed with M1 disease between 2007 and 2021. The patients were divided into the non-palliative (received any systemic chemotherapy, n = 60) and palliative (did not receive systemic chemotherapy, n = 38) groups. Overall survival (OS) was compared between the groups. In the non-palliative group, predictors of OS were explored based on patient characteristics and treatment details.

RESULTS: The median OS in the non-palliative group was 15 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 10-20), which was significantly longer than that in the palliative group (3 months, 95% CI, 2-5) (p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed that administration of locoregional radiation therapy (RT) (hazard ratio [HR] 0.407 [95% CI 0.197-0.844]; p = 0.016), ICIs (HR 0.216 [95% CI 0.088-0.532]; p < 0.001) and RT/surgery for distant metastasis (HR 0.373 [95% CI 0.150-0.932]; p = 0.034) were the independent prognostic factors of OS.

CONCLUSION: An intensive treatment strategy combining systemic therapy using ICIs with RT/surgery for locoregional or distant metastasis may yield a survival benefit for patients with HNSCC with M1 disease.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: 4 Laryngoscope, 2023.

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