High surgical volume is associated with improved survival in head and neck cancer

Chandler J. Rygalski, Zachary M. Huttinger, Songzhu Zhao, Guy Brock, Kyle VanKoevering, Matthew O. Old, Theodoros N. Teknos, James W. Rocco, Sidharth V. Puram, Nolan B. Seim, Brian Swendseid, Catherine T. Haring, Antoine Eskander, Stephen Y. Kang

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1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Examine the relationship between hospital volume and overall mortality in a surgical cohort of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients. Materials & methods: A retrospective review of the NCDB was completed for adults with previously untreated HNSCC diagnosed between 2004 and 2016. Mean annual hospital volume was calculated using the number of head and neck cancer cases treated at a given facility divided by the number of years the facility reported to the NCDB. Facilities were separated into three categories based on their volume percentile, informed by inflection points from a natural cubic spline: Hospital Group 1 (<50%); Hospital Group 2 (50–90%); Hospital Group 3 (90%+). Cox proportional hazard models were used to examine the association between volume percentiles (continuous or categorical) with patient overall survival, adjusting for important patient and facility variables known to impact survival. Results: Risk of death decreased by 2.97% for every 10% increase in facility percentile after adjusting for other risk factors. Patients treated at facilities in Hospital Group 1 had a 23.1% increase in risk of mortality (HR 1.231 [95% CI 1.12–1.35]) relative those at facilities in Hospital Group 3. No significant difference in mortality risk was found between Hospital Group 2 versus Hospital Group 3 (HR 1.031 [95% CI 0.97–1.10]). Conclusions: Survival of HNSCC patients is significantly improved when treated at facilities >50th percentile in annual hospital volume. This may support the regionalization of care to high volume head and neck centers with comprehensive facilities and supportive services to maximize patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106333
JournalOral Oncology
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Head and neck cancer
  • Hospital volume
  • National cancer database


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