BackgroundThe aims of this systematic review are to (a) evaluate the current literature on the impact of postoperative therapy for resected squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) on oncologic and non-oncologic outcomes and (b) identify the optimal evidence-based postoperative therapy recommendations for commonly encountered clinical scenarios.
MethodsAn analysis of the medical literature from peer-reviewed journals was conducted using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guideline. Prospective studies and methodology-based systematic reviews and meta-analyses of postoperative therapy for SCCHN were identified by searching Medline (OVID) and EMBASE (Elsevier) using controlled vocabulary terms (ie, National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Headings [MeSH], EMTREE). Study screening and selection was performed with Covidence software and full-text review. The RAND/UCLA appropriateness method was used by the expert panel to rate the appropriate use of postoperative therapy, and the modified Delphi method was used to come to consensus.
ResultsA total of 5660 studies were identified and screened using the title and abstract, leading to 201 studies assessed for relevance using full-text review. After limitation to the eligibility criteria, 101 studies from 1977 to 2020 were identified, including 77 with oncologic endpoints and 24 with function and quality of life endpoints. All studies reported staging prior to the implementation of American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC-8).
ConclusionsProspective clinical studies and systematic reviews identified through the PRISMA systematic review provided good evidence for consensus statements regarding the appropriate use of postoperative therapy for resected SCCHN. Further research is needed in domains where consensus by the expert panel could not be achieved for the appropriateness of specific postoperative therapeutic interventions.