The aim of this retrospective study was to describe the oncologic and functional results of treating oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma with transoral robotic surgery and neck dissection as monotherapy. A review was performed, including all patients who underwent transoral robotic surgery and neck dissection as the only means of therapy for oropharyngeal carcinoma from March 2007 to July 2009 at a single tertiary care academic medical center. We reviewed all cases with ≥24-month follow-up. Functional outcomes included tracheostomy dependence and oral feeding ability. Oncologic outcomes were stratified by human papillomavirus (HPV) status and tobacco use and included local, regional, and distant disease control, as well as disease-specific and recurrence-free survival. Eighteen patients met study criteria. Ten patients (55.6%) were able to eat orally in the immediate postoperative period, and 8 (44.4%) required a temporary nasogastric tube for a mean duration of 13.6 days (range 3 to 24 days) before returning to an oral diet. No patient required placement of a gastrostomy tube, and all patients are tracheostomy-tube-free. Among the HPV-positive nonsmokers (12/18, 66.7%), Kaplan-Meier estimated 3-year local, regional, and distant control rates were 90.9%, 100%, and 100%, respectively. Kaplan-Meier estimated disease-specific survival and recurrence-free survival were 100% and 90.9%, respectively. No complications occurred.
This study suggests that carefully selected patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal carcinoma can be effectively treated with surgery alone with excellent functional and oncologic outcomes.