Adjuvant external-beam radiotherapy in patients with high-risk well-differentiated thyroid cancer

June 30, 2009     Peter V. Chen, MD, MS, Ryan Osborne, MD, Eugene Ahn, MD, Sofia Avitia, MD, Elliot Abemayor, MD, PhD, and Guy Juillard, MD


The role of adjuvant external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) in well-differentiated thyroid cancer is not well delineated. Many clinicians rely solely on iodine 131 (131I) to destroy thyroid remnants following thyroidectomy. However, the lesser uptake of isotope in tumor cells suggests that 131I alone may not be sufficient to eradicate microscopic residual disease when no gross thyroid tissue remains. We conducted a retrospective study to examine the potential benefit of adjuvant EBRT in patients at high risk for microscopic residual disease following thyroidectomy. Between 1973 and 2001, 44 patients with well-differentiated papillary or follicular thyroid cancer were found to have extracapsular extension following thyroidectomy. These patients were divided into 2 groups based on the type of treatment; 11 patients had received adjuvant EBRT (with or without 131I) and 33 patients had not received EBRT (i.e., they received adjuvant 131I only). We reviewed their medical records and compiled data on local recurrence and overall survival (Kaplan-Meier analysis). Despite having a less favorable prognosis, the EBRT group experienced no local recurrences during a mean follow-up of 7.8 years; in contrast, 9 local recurrences were seen in the no-EBRT group. Also, the median survival for patients without a local recurrence was longer than that for those who had failed locally (425 vs. 317 mo). Although our population was not large enough for these differences to achieve statistical significance, our study did show that adjuvant EBRT provided excellent results. We hypothesize that a reciprocal irradiation effect between cancer cells and normal cells may be necessary in order for 131I to be tumoricidal. If so, a patient with microscopic residual disease would not have enough cancer cells to sufficiently concentrate 131I. Because EBRT does not depend on such a mechanism, it may be more effective than 131I in controlling disease in the setting of microscopic disease. Larger studies are needed to validate our results. In the meantime, we believe that adjuvant EBRT should play an important role in the treatment of patients with high-risk well-differentiated thyroid cancer.

Training in the primary prevention and early detection of oral cancer: Pilot study of its impact on clinicians' perceptions and intentions

January 1, 2009     Charles W. LeHew, PhD, Joel B. Epstein, DMD, MSD, Anne Koerber, DDS, PhD, and Linda M. Kaste, DDS, PhD


In this pilot study, we tested a new program for training medical care providers in the primary prevention and early detection of oral cancer. The training program consisted of two modules: (1) oral cancer epidemiology and head and neck examinations for the early detection of oral cancer and (2) assessment and counseling of patients in tobacco cessation. On a pretraining questionnaire, the 8 participating clinicians (3 primary care physicians, 4 ENT nurses, and 1 physician assistant) indicated that they had only a limited awareness of oral cancer, that they generally did not routinely examine asymptomatic patients for oral cancer, and that they engaged in only a limited amount of risk assessment/counseling with their patients. On a post-training questionnaire, they indicated that their training had been well received and would prompt them to increase their efforts to examine their patients for early signs of oral cancer and to counsel them about its risks.

Transthoracic/transcervical approach to cervicothoracic thyroid cancer

September 25, 2008     Sofia Avitia, MD and Ryan F. Osborne, MD, FACS

Personality changes and the role of counseling in the rehabilitation of patients with laryngeal cancer

July 31, 2008     Deepika Sharma, BSc, Anu N. Nagarkar, PhD, Pankaj Jindal, BSc, Rajinder Kaur, PhD, and Ashok K. Gupta, MS


We conducted a study of 65 adults who had undergone laryngectomy for the treatment of laryngeal cancer. Our goal was to identify any abnormal personality traits in these patients and to assess the effect that psychological counseling might have on correcting these abnormalities and thereby improving postoperative voice rehabilitation. A Personality Trait Inventory (PTI) administered to all patients preoperatively identified 47 patients who had abnormal scores for at least three personality traits. These 47 patients were sent for preoperative psychological counseling, and 3 months following surgery, they underwent a follow-up PTI. At the follow-up assessment, 40 of these patients—32 men and 8 women—still registered abnormal scores for at least three traits. Half of the men and half of the women were randomized to receive 12 sessions of individualized psychological counseling over 6 months in addition to standard speech therapy (group I); the other patients received speech therapy only (group II). A follow-up PTI was administered at the completion of psychological counseling and/or speech therapy (postoperative month 9). Statistical analysis of the data was performed with the paired-samples test. Intragroup analysis of the follow-up PTI results revealed that both groups experienced a significant improvement in activity scores (p < 0.001) compared with their previous PTI results and that group I had significantly better scores for two other PTI traits—cyclothymia (mood swings) and depressive tendency (p < 0.05); neither group showed a significant improvement in dominance scores. Intergroup comparisons revealed that group I's activity and depressive tendency scores were significantly better than those of group II; there was no significant difference between the two groups in cyclothymia and dominance scores. Finally, comparison of results by sex, regardless of group, revealed that men had a significantly higher score for dominance and women had significantly higher scores for depressive tendency, emotional instability, introversion, and social desirability. We conclude that a preoperative personality analysis should be carried out in all patients scheduled for laryngectomy to identify those with personality problems that might benefit from psychological counseling. Correction of these problems should help in the physical, mental, vocational, and social rehabilitation of these patients.

Metastatic ovarian cancer in the head and neck

May 31, 2008     Sofia Avitia, MD, Jason S. Hamilton, MD, and Ryan F. Osborne, MD, FACS

Influence of long-term airflow deprivation on the dimensions of the nasal cavity: A study of laryngectomy patients using acoustic rhinometry

July 31, 2007     Ozan Bagis Ozgursoy, MD; Gursel Dursun, MD
We conducted a prospective study to investigate the long-term effect of nasal airflow deprivation on nasal dimensions after total laryngectomy. We evaluated 48 patients who had an initial diagnosis of laryngeal cancer; 6 were disqualified during follow-up, leaving us with data on 42 patients for our final analysis. Acoustic rhinometry was used to measure the minimum cross-sectional area (MCSA) and the volume of the nasal cavity on both the left and right sides before and after laryngectomy. In addition, patients underwent endoscopic nasal examinations and answered questionnaires pre- and postoperatively. At both the 1- and 2-year follow-ups, the mean MCSAs and the mean nasal volumes of both the left and right nostrils were significantly smaller than the preoperative values (p < 0.001). The endoscopic examinations revealed only a mild deterioration in the appearance of the nasal mucosa over the long term. Questionnaire responses obtained at the 2-year follow-up visit revealed that all 42 evaluable patients were experiencing a moderate degree of nasal obstruction while inhaling through the nose. Our data indicate that the dimensions of the nasal cavity appear to be substantially and permanently reduced after total laryngectomy. Our study had two important advantages over other similar studies. First, because ours was a prospective study, we were able to obtain preoperative data and use it to make postoperative comparisons of the same patients rather than using healthy controls as comparators. Second, we used acoustic rhinometry, while most other studies relied on anterior rhinoscopy or rhinomanometry, which are inferior methods of making the evaluations in question. We believe that our findings represent a substantial contribution to our knowledge of the physiologic and functional alterations of the nasal cavity that occur as a result of a complete cessation of nasal airflow.

Prognostic significance of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in oropharyngeal cancer

July 31, 2007     Samer Rajjoub, BA; Suzanne R. Basha, MD; Eugene Einhorn, MD; Marc C. Cohen, MD; Doug M. Marvel, BA; Duane A. Sewell, MD
The presence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes has been shown to significantly improve clinical outcomes in many types of cancer. However, their effects on outcomes in patients with oropharyngeal cancer specifically have yet to be elucidated. We conducted a retrospective study in an effort to shed light on this issue. We reviewed the records of 48 consecutively presenting patients with oropharyngeal cancer, and we performed immunohistochemistry to analyze their archived paraffin-embedded tissue samples for the presence of CD3-positive tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. We also used real-time polymerase chain reaction testing to look for human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) in the tumors. We found that patients with large numbers of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (CD3high) had a significantly lower incidence of metastasis at presentation than did those with low numbers of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (CD3low) (40.0 vs. 88.5%; p = 0.001), regardless of HPV status. When HPV status was taken into account, the correlation between a high CD3 count and a lower rate of metastasis was maintained in the HPV-positive patients but not in the HPV-negative patients. We also found that the CD3high patients had higher rates of overall survival and disease-free survival at 3 and 5 years than did the CD3low patients; however, these differences only approached but did not reach statistical significance.

Outpatient management of infected hardware in the oncology patient

July 31, 2006     Ryan F. Osborne, MD, FACS; Jason S. Hamilton, MD

Early detection of gastric cancer with esophageal extension by transnasal esophagoscopy

April 1, 2006     Timothy D. Anderson, MD; Steven F. Nezhad, MD

An assessment of risk factors for the development of a second primary malignancy in the head and neck

February 1, 2006     Neil Bhattacharyya, MD
This retrospective database study of 44,862 patients who had a history of a primary head and neck malignancy was conducted to identify any clinical variables that may predict the occurrence of a second primary head and neck malignancy. During a mean follow-up of 42.2 months, a second head and neck primary developed in 941 of these patients (2.1%). Statistical analyses revealed that a higher incidence of a second primary was associated with increased age and a location of the first primary in the larynx/hypopharynx, the oropharynx, a major salivary gland, or the nasopharynx. A lower incidence was associated with the presence of cervical nodal disease or treatment of the first primary with radiation therapy. Factors that had no effect on the risk of a second primary included sex, the size of the first primary tumor, a first-primary site in the oral cavity, and treatment of the first primary with cancer-directed surgery. The risk of a second primary head and neck cancer remained constant for at least 10 years.

The use of combined PET/CT for localizing recurrent head and neck cancer: The Pittsburgh experience

February 1, 2005     Lee A. Zimmer, MD, PhD; Carl Snyderman, MD; Melanie B. Fukui, MD; Todd Blodgett, MD; Barry McCook, MD; David W. Townsend, PhD; Carolyn C. Meltzer, MD
We performed a retrospective study of 47 patients to ascertain the ability of combined positron-emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT) to localize recurrent head and neck cancer. When clinically warranted, biopsies were performed in an attempt to obtain pathologic confirmation of the PET/CT findings. Of the 47 patients, 33 exhibited PET/CT findings consistent with recurrent cancer. Of the 33 patients, 25 underwent either biopsy or surgical excision of disease in an attempt to obtain a pathologic confirmation. Biopsy analysis confirmed the PET/CT findings in 22 of these patients; in the remaining 3 patients, pathologic findings were inconsistent with the PET/CT diagnosis. Based on the subset of 25 patients who underwent pathologic testing, the sensitivity of combined PET/CT was 95% and the specificity was 60%. We conclude that combined PET/CT imaging is a valuable tool for localizing tumor recurrence in patients with head and neck cancer.

Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube feeding in patients with head and neck cancer

May 31, 2004     Soly Baredes, MD; Daniel Behin, BA; Edwin Deitch, MD
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