Rapid recurrence in head and neck cancer: Underappreciated problem with poor outcome

Douglas Y. Lee, Jesty Abraham, Eric Ross, John A. Ridge, Miriam N. Lango, Jeffrey C. Liu, Jessica R. Bauman, Vladimir Avkshtol, Thomas J. Galloway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Rapid recurrence, defined as gross tumor recurrence after primary operation but prior to initiating postoperative radiation therapy (PORT), is underappreciated in head and neck cancer (HNC). Methods: CT simulation images in patients with HNC managed surgically with adjuvant therapy at a single center between 2010 and 2017 were retrospectively reviewed. Results: A total of 194 patients with HNC were included. Rapid recurrence occurred in 39 patients (20%) with a median time from operation to CT simulation of 37 days. On multivariable analysis (MVA), extranodal extension (ENE) was the only predictor of rapid recurrence (P =.03). While rapid recurrence, ENE, and perineural invasion were all associated with poor overall survival (OS) on MVA, rapid recurrence was the strongest predictor (hazard ratio [HR] 5.47). Conclusion: Rapid recurrence occurs at an underappreciated rate and is associated with poor survival outcomes. Patients with ENE are at highest risk and may benefit from diagnostic imaging evaluations immediately prior to PORT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-222
Number of pages11
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • extranodal extension
  • head and neck cancer
  • postoperative radiation
  • rapid recurrence
  • recurrence


Dive into the research topics of 'Rapid recurrence in head and neck cancer: Underappreciated problem with poor outcome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this