Value of routine follow-up in oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer patients treated with curative intent

Maria T Brands*, Iris J Swinkels, Anne M W M Aarts, André L M Verbeek, Matthias A W Merkx, Henri A M Marres, Johannes H A M Kaanders, Willem J G Melchers, Ilse van Engen-van Grunsven, Robert P Takes, Sandra M E Geurts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: The major goal of routine follow-up in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) patients is the asymptomatic detection of new disease in order to improve survival. This study evaluated the effect of routine follow-up on overall survival (OS).

METHODS: A retrospective cohort of 307 consecutive OPSCC patients treated with curative intent between 2006 and 2012 was analyzed. The effectiveness of routine follow-up was studied by comparing treatment-intent and OS in patients with asymptomatically versus symptomatically detected new disease.

RESULTS: Three- and five-year risks of new disease were 29% (95% CI: 24-34) and 33% (95% CI: 27-39). Of the 81 patients with locoregional recurrence or second primary head and neck cancer, 8 (10%) were detected asymptomatically with no difference in OS with those detected with symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: Asymptomatic detection of new disease during routine visits was not associated with improved OS. The focus of follow-up should be on providing psychosocial care and rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-594
Number of pages9
JournalHead and Neck-Journal for the Sciences and Specialties of the Head and Neck
Issue number3
Early online date24 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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