Comparative effectiveness of induction chemotherapy for oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma: A population-based analysis

David J. Sher, David L. Schwartz, Lucien Nedzi, Saad Khan, Randall Hughes, Mary Jo Fidler, Matthew Koshy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objectives Despite several randomized trials, the optimal chemotherapy paradigm for locally advanced oropharyngeal carcinoma (OPSCC) is controversial. This population-based analysis assessed the overall survival (OS) benefit of induction chemotherapy (IC) for patients with stage III-IVB OPSCC. Materials and Methods Patients in the National Cancer Database with stage III-IVA-B OPSCC treated with curative-dose radiotherapy and IC or concurrent chemotherapy (CRT) between 2003 and 2011 were eligible. The primary outcome was OS, and secondary endpoints included OS for high-risk (T4 and/or N3 disease) and human papillomavirus (HPV) subsets. Results Of the 14,856 analyzed patients, 78% and 22% received CRT and IC, respectively. With a median follow-up for surviving patients of 44 months, the 5-year OS probability for the entire cohort was 66% (66% CRT vs. 64% IC, p = 0.022). Multivariable survival analysis showed no significant difference between CRT and IC (hazard ratio, HR, 0.95 for IC, p = 0.255), and sensitivity analyses to adjust for immortal time bias brought the HR to 1.0 (p = 0.859). There was also no OS difference for high-risk patients. There was a trend in favor of CRT for HPV-positive OPSCC (HR 1.63 with IC, p = 0.064), with a significant OS benefit for HPV-negative, high-risk OPSCC (HR 0.63, p = 0.048). Conclusion For the vast majority of patients, including HPV-positive individuals, there was no difference in OS with IC, arguing for CRT to remain as the standard therapy. Subset analysis revealed a small cohort of aggressive cancer (T4/N3 HPV-negative) which may benefit from from IC, although selection bias could not be ruled out.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
JournalOral Oncology
StatePublished - Mar 2016


  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Combined modality therapy
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Induction chemotherapy
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Outcomes research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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