Stage T4B head and neck cancer survival outcome comparisons based on treatment modality: is surgery a viable treatment option?
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IMPORTANCE: Advanced stage head and neck cancers are often deemed unresectable due to the aggressive nature of the cancer. In evaluating survival patterns of patients with stage IVb tumors, it is valuable to determine whether patients who undergo oncological surgery have favorable outcomes in order to deem surgery as a viable treatment option and demonstrate that these patients can survive with adequate treatment. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether patients with stage IVb cancers who undergo oncological surgery have favorable survival outcomes. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Of 320 cases reviewed of patients treated for head and neck cancer at Boston Medical Center between June 2009 and October 2014, 18 patients with stage IVb tumors were identified. Information regarding date of initial diagnosis, date and type of treatment, and date of death were extrapolated from medical records. Mean survival rates were calculated to compare survival outcomes of those who received and those who did not receive surgical intervention. RESULTS: The mean survival rate for patients who underwent surgical intervention was found to be 29.5 months while those who did not receive surgical intervention had a mean survival of 20.83 months. CONCLUSION: Cancers of the head and neck are associated with poor prognoses and are often deemed unresectable. Patients should be offered definitive treatment despite recommended palliative treatment, as, with adequate treatment, favorable survival outcomes are attainable.