To investigate the benefit of postoperative radiotherapy (PORT) for low-volume (pN1) nodal disease after resection of oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma.The National Cancer Database was queried for adults with nonmetastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity treated by surgical resection with pathologic stage T1-2 N0-2 (American Joint Committee on Cancer 7th edition) and with the maximal exclusion of standard indications for PORT. Overall survival was compared within pN1 for observation versus PORT and then compared for pN1 versus pN0 and versus pN2 stratified by receipt of observation or PORT. Multivariable Cox regression was used to adjust for potential confounders between PORT and survival, including comorbidity and age.Overall 5017 pN0, 530 pN1, and 253 pN2 patients were identified, of whom 9%, 35%, and 64% received PORT, respectively. Within the pN1 cohort, PORT was associated with improved survival versus observation (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.66; 95% confidence interval, 0.46-0.97; P=0.03). Among observed patients, the prognosis of pN1 was equivalent to pN2 and inferior to pN0; in contrast, among patients treated with PORT, the prognosis of pN1 was equivalent to pN0 and superior to pN2. Without PORT, pN1 remained an adverse risk factor relative to pN0 regardless of the depth of invasion, lymph node size, lymph node location, and extent of lymph node dissection.PORT was associated with a survival benefit compared with observation. Notably, pN1 was an adverse risk factor relative to pN0 if, and only if, patients did not receive PORT, suggesting pN1 by itself may be an indication for PORT.
View details for DOI 10.1097/COC.0000000000000792
View details for PubMedID 33417322