Pre-radiotherapy feeding tube identifies a poor prognostic subset of postoperative p16 positive oropharyngeal carcinoma patients

Vivek Verma, Jingxia Liu, Laura Eschen, Jonathan Danieley, Christopher Spencer, James S. Lewis, Jason Diaz, Jay F. Piccirillo, Douglas R. Adkins, Brian Nussenbaum, Wade L. Thorstad, Hiram A. Gay

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5 Scopus citations


Background: This study explores variables associated with poor prognosis in postoperative p16 positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) patients undergoing adjuvant radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy. Specifically, analysis was done related to timing of feeding tube insertion relative to radiotherapy. Methods: From 1997-2009, of 376 consecutive patients with OPSCC, 220 received adjuvant IMRT, and 97 were p16 positive and eligible. Of these, 23 had feeding tube placement before IMRT (B-FT), 32 during/after IMRT (DA-FT), and 42 had no feeding tube (NO-FT). Feeding tubes were not placed prophylactically. These three groups were analyzed for differential tumor, patient, treatment, and feeding tube characteristics, as well as differences in overall survival (OS), disease free survival (DFS), and distant metastasis free survival (DMFS). Results: Pre-RT FT insertion was associated with higher tumor size and depth, T (but not N) and overall stage, comorbidities, presence of chemotherapy, and less use of transoral laser microsurgery/transoral bovie. Additionally, time from surgery to IMRT completion was also statistically longer in the B-FT group. The feeding tube was permanent in 52% of patients in the B-FT group versus 16% in the DA-FT group (p = 0.0075). The 5-year OS for the NO-FT, DA-FT, and B-FT groups was 90%, 86%, and 50%, respectively. The 5-year DFS for the NO-FT, DA-FT, and B-FT groups was 87.6%, 83.6%, and 42.7%, respectively. Multivariate analysis showed that for OS and DFS, feeding tube placement timing and smoking history were statistically significant. Conclusion: Due to the poor prognosis of early FT insertion, the presence of FTs at time of radiotherapy consultation can be used as an alternate marker to identify a subset of p16 positive OPSCC patients that have a poor prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalRadiation Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 9 2015


  • Adjuvant intensity modulated radiation therapy
  • Definitive surgery
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Oropharynx squamous cell carcinoma
  • PEG feeding tube
  • p16 positive


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