Oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC) commonly occurs in elderly patients. This study explores the clinical outcomes in elderly patients with OCSCC based on their functional status and clinical comorbidities.We retrospectively reviewed 180 patients aged =70 who were treated with definitive intent with surgery followed by adjuvant therapy if indicated for newly diagnosed OCSCC from 1998 to 2013. Pathology review was conducted, and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status and the Head and Neck Charlson Comorbidity Index (HN-CCI) were assessed. We performed Kaplan-Meier analyses and cumulative incidence estimates to assess overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), and locoregional recurrence (LRR). Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to test age, adjuvant therapy, adverse pathologic features, ECOG status, and HN-CCI status as predictors.The median age was 80 years (range, 70-95 years), with a median follow-up time of 23 months. The median OS was 18 months and 46 months for patients aged 70 to 84 and =85, respectively (P=.0017). The LRR was 24% at 1 year and 30% at 2 years for all patients. On univariate analysis, ECOG score =2 (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.96; confidence interval [CI] 1.19-3.21; P=.008) and HN-CCI score =2 (HR=1.97; CI 1.17-3.34; P=.011) were predictors of worse OS. On multivariate analysis, HN-CCI score was a better predictor of OS, PFS, and LRR than was ECOG score. Predictors of worse OS were age =85 (HR=1.78; CI 1.07-2.96; P=.026), HN-CCI score of =2 (HR=2.21; CI 1.20-4.08; P=.011), and adverse features (HR=2.35; CI 1.34-4.13; P=.003). Adjuvant therapy did not have a significant impact on OS or LRR for patients with adverse features even though 48% of them did not receive it.Elderly patients with good health and performance status may live long enough to experience disease progression from OCSCC. ECOG and HN-CCI scores may be useful to evaluate the candidacy of elderly patients for adjuvant therapy. However, the benefit of adjuvant therapy in this population remains elusive and should be investigated prospectively.
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