Evaluation of A Post-Treatment Follow-Up Program in Patients with Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Clinical Oral Investigations
The duration and the frequency of follow-up after treatment of oral squamous cell carcinoma are not standardized in the current literature. The purpose of this study was to evaluate our local standard post-treatment and follow-up protocol.
Materials and methods
Overall, 228 patients treated curatively from 01/2006 to 07/2013 were reviewed. To evaluate the follow-up program, data on the secondary event were used. To determine risk groups, all patients with tumor recurrence were specifically analyzed. Relapse-free rate were estimated by the Kaplan-Meier product limit method. The chi-square test was used to identify independent risk factors for tumor relapse.
In total, 29.8 % patients had a secondary event. The majority of the relapse cases (88.2 %) were detected within 2 years postoperatively, 61.8 % of them within the first year. Most events were local recurrences (34.7 %). UICC-stage IV was significantly associated with tumor recurrence (p = 0.001). Gender (p = 0.188), age (p = 0.195), localization (p = 0.739), T-stage (p = 0.35), N-stage (p = 0.55), histologic grade (p = 0.162), and tobacco and alcohol use (p = 0.248) were not significantly associated with tumor recurrence. Patients with positive neck nodes relapsed earlier (p = 0.011). The majority of relapses (86.3 %) were found in asymptomatic patients at routine follow-up.
The results of this study suggest an intensified follow-up within the first 2 years after surgery.
Given the higher relapse rate of patients exhibiting an UICC-stage IV and/or positive neck nodes, it seems to be from special interest to perform in this group a risk-adapted follow-up with monthly examinations also in the second year.