Post-operative outcomes of different surgical approaches to oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer: a case-matched study.

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To compare the post-operative outcomes of transoral laser microsurgery, lateral pharyngotomy and transmandibular surgery in oropharyngeal cancer management.Records of 162 patients treated with transmandibular surgery, transoral laser microsurgery or lateral pharyngotomy were reviewed. The transoral laser microsurgery cohort was matched with the lateral pharyngotomy and transmandibular surgery cohorts for tumour stage, tumour subsite and human papilloma virus status, and the intra- and post-operative outcomes were compared.Duration of surgery and hospital stay were significantly longer for transmandibular surgery. Tracheostomy and nasogastric feeding tube rates were similar, but time to decannulation and to oral feeding were longer in the transmandibular surgery group. Transmandibular surgery more frequently required flap reconstruction and had a greater complication rate. Negative margins were fewer in the lateral pharyngotomy group than in the transoral laser microsurgery and transmandibular surgery groups.In comparison with transmandibular surgery, transoral laser microsurgery and lateral pharyngotomy were associated with fewer complications and faster functional recovery. Lateral pharyngotomy had a higher rate of positive margins than transoral laser microsurgery, with a consequently greater need for adjuvant therapy. Many patients are nonetheless unsuitable for transoral surgery. All these factors should be considered when deciding on oropharyngeal cancer surgical treatment.

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Authors: G Tirelli, A Bertolin, F Guida, S Zucchini, M Tofanelli, G Rizzotto, P Boscolo-Rizzo, G Danesi, N Gardenal