Treatment of oral cancer: the need for defined protocols and specialist centres. variations in the treatment of oral cancer.
The authors of this study aimed to identify treatment philosophies for oral cancer within the west of Scotland and to investigate any survival differences associated with the various treatment options by means of a retrospective review of case notes and cancer registry data. All patients with squamous cancer of the tongue or floor of the mouth were identified from the West of Scotland Cancer Registry for the period 1984-1990. A total of 206 patients were available for study. Five different treatment protocols were identified: 5% of patients underwent biopsy only, 16% biopsy plus radiotherapy, 11% excisional biopsy, 25% radical surgery, and 42% radical surgery plus radiotherapy. Tumour staging by the TNM classification was an important factor that determined outcome. When adjusting for T stage and nodal involvement, there was a significant effect of treatment protocol on both the disease-free period (P < 0.001) and on survival (P < 0.001). The treatment options were used differently by individual clinicians and were related to stage of the disease. One hundred and forty-four (70%) of the patients were treated by a single combined head and neck unit based within the plastic surgery unit at Canniesburn Hospital. The remaining 62 were treated in 13 different units throughout the west of Scotland. For those not treated in the combined head and neck unit, the increased hazard for recurrence was 1.43 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01-2.02), and the increased hazard ratio for death was 1.48 (95% CI 1.06-2.06) when adjusting for tumour stage, and nodal involvement. Treatment philosophies for oral cancer have a significant effect on outcome. There is a need to develop clearly defined protocols based on staging and site of disease. We believe that treatment should be carried out within a multidisciplinary setting in a combined head and neck cancer unit.
Robertson, AG; Robertson, C; Soutar, DS; Burns, H; Hole, D; McCarron, P
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