Background: To cure advanced hypopharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (HPSCC), primary operation followed by adjuvant (chemo-)radiotherapy (OP-CRT) or definitive chemoradiation (CCRT) are the two primary options. This study aimed to compare the failure patterns and long-term survival outcomes of HPSCC patients treated with these two strategies. Patients and Methods: From 2007 to 2015, 198 pathologically confirmed HPSCC patients receiving either OP-CRT or CCRT were retrospectively reviewed. Failure patterns and survival outcomes stratified by the 7th American Joint Committee on Cancer staging system and treatment modalities were compared. Results: One hundred and eighty-nine patients (95.4%) were stage III/IV and 62 patients (31.3%) received OP-CRT. Median follow-up duration was 4.9 years. Compared with CCRT, OP-CRT provided better 3-year local relapse-free survival for T3 (93 vs 48%, p < 0.0001), T4a (88 vs 37%, p = 0.0005) and better 3-year regional relapse-free survival for N2b+2c (93 vs 60%, p < 0.0001). Of note, for stage IVA subjects, OP-CRT provided better 3-year loco-regional relapse-free survival (85 vs 37%, p < 0.0001), marginal poor 3-year distant metastasis-free survival (62 vs 79%, p = 0.06), but comparable 3-year OS (52 vs 44%, p = 0.37) and 5-year OS (44 vs 31%, p = 0.15) compared with CCRT. Conclusions: For patients with advanced HPSCC, although OP-CRT and CCRT provided similar overall survival, failure patterns were distinct. OP-CRT provided better loco-regional control but was more likely to encounter distant metastases than CCRT. The detailed analysis of failure patterns will pave the way to improve this devastating disease.
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