Primary and salvage (hypo)pharyngectomy: Analysis and outcome

Jonathan R. Clark, John De Almeida, Ralph Gilbert, Jonathan Irish, Dale Brown, Peter Neligan, Patrick J. Gullane*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Surgery for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) arising or extending to the hypopharynx is generally reserved for advanced disease or salvage. The prognosis of patients requiring pharyngectomy is poor, and the perioperative morbidity is significant. The aim of the present study is to describe the disease-related and treatment-related outcomes of patients undergoing primary and salvage pharyngectomy for cancer of the hypopharynx and larynx over a 10-year period from a single institution. Methods. We retrospectively reviewed 138 partial and circumferential pharyngectomies performed at a tertiary referral center between 1992 and 2002. There were 31 females and 107 males. The median age was 62 years (range, 27-81 years), and mean follow-up was 3.6 years. Salvage pharyngectomy for radiation failure was performed in 72 patients (52%), and in 66 patients (48%) pharyngectomy was performed as the primary treatment. Results. The 5-year overall survival rate after salvage pharyngectomy was 31% and after primary pharyngectomy was 38%. The 5-year disease-specific survival (DSS) for salvage was 40% and after primary surgery was 45%. The 5-year local and regional control rates for salvage pharyngectomy were 71% and 70%, respectively, and for primary pharyngectomy were 79% and 67%, respectively. The perioperative mortality rate was 3.6%, and the combined morbidity rate was 70%. Postoperative hypocalcemia developed in 44% of patients, a pharyngocutaneous fistula developed in 31% of patients, and the long-term stricture rate was 15%. Variables adversely affecting DSS on univariate analysis were nodal metastases (p = .044), extracapsular spread (ECS) (p = .006), poorly differentiated tumors (p = .015), lymphovascular invasion, (p = .042), and positive tumor margins (p = .026). ECS (p = .023) was the only independent prognostic variable on multivariable analysis; however, there was a trend toward significance for nodal metastases (p = .064) and tumor differentiation (p = .079). Conclusion. This study demonstrates that both salvage pharyngectomy and primary surgery for advanced disease are viable options with high locoregional control. However, this represents a high-risk group in terms of both operative morbidity and survival. Patients with nodal meastases, ECS, and poorly differentiated tumors are likely to succumb to their disease and should be selected for adjuvant therapy when possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-677
Number of pages7
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Extracapsular spread
  • Hypopharynx
  • Laryngopharyngectomy
  • Larynx
  • Lymph node metastases
  • Perineural invasion
  • Pharyngectomy
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Tumor differentiation


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