Predictors of swallow function after transoral surgery for locally advanced oropharyngeal cancer

Jennifer H. Gross, Melanie Townsend, Helena Y. Hong, Emily Miller, Dorina Kallogjeri, Joseph Zenga, Patrik Pipkorn, Ryan S. Jackson, Bruce Haughey, Jason T. Rich

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: Transoral surgery (TOS) for oropharyngeal carcinoma (OPC) is steadily becoming more routine. Expected posttreatment swallow function is a critical consideration for preoperative counseling. The objective of this study was to identify predictors of swallow dysfunction following TOS for advanced tumor (T)-stage (T3-T4) OPC. Methods: A retrospective review from 1997 to 2016 at a single institution was performed. Eighty-two patients who underwent primary transoral resection of locally advanced OPCs with at least 1 year of postoperative follow-up were included. The primary outcome measure was swallow function, as measured by the Functional Outcomes Swallowing Scale (FOSS) at 1 year postoperatively. Operative reports were reviewed, and the extent of resection and type of reconstruction were documented. Conjunctive consolidation was then performed to incorporate multiple variables and their impact on swallow function into a clinically meaningful classification system. Results: Fifty-six patients (68%) had acceptable swallowing at 1 year. T4 tumor stage and receipt of adjuvant chemoradiation therapy (CRT) were strongly associated with poor swallowing but did not reach statistical significance. Only base of tongue (BOT) resection ≥50% (odds ratio [OR] 3.19, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.21–8.43) and older age (OR 1.06, 95% CI 1.00–1.12) were significantly associated. Utilizing T-stage, adjuvant CRT, and BOT resection, a conjunctive consolidation was performed to develop a classification system for swallow dysfunction at 1 year. Conclusion: This study provides risk stratification for swallow function at 1 year following primary transoral resection of locally advanced OPCs. BOT resection ≥50%, especially when coupled with T4 tumor stage or adjuvant CRT, was associated with poor long-term swallow outcomes. Level of Evidence: 3 Laryngoscope, 130:94–100, 2020.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Transoral surgery
  • oropharynx cancer
  • swallow function


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