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Hello and welcome to the ASCO Guidelines podcast series. My name is Shannon McKernin, and today I'm interviewing Dr. Shlomo Koyfman from the Cleveland Clinic, lead author on "Management of the Neck in Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Oral Cavity and Oropharynx: ASCO Clinical Practice Guideline." Thank you for being here today, Dr. Koyfman.
It's a pleasure.
So first, can you give us a general overview of what this guideline covers?
Yeah, so this is an exciting guideline because it covers a topic that we don't usually think about in head and neck cancer in a formal way, and that is management of the neck in squamous cell cancer of the oral cavity and the oropharynx. So there's a lot of literature and guidelines out there on how to manage oropharynx cancer, which is becoming a more and more common cancer, especially in the HPV-positive era, less so on oral cavity. But a lot of times it's focused on people who don't get surgery, chemoradiation, or people who do get surgery and TORS, Transoral Robotic Surgery, and different approaches. But rarely do we have something focus on management of the neck per se, which is really, really important in these cancers and often overlooked in favor of the primary tumor itself. So these guidelines really take us through some salient questions in how to manage the neck in these two cancers.
And what are the key recommendations of this guideline?
The recommendations came off of six fundamental questions, three in oral cavity and three in oropharynx. There are some commonalities between the two and some differences. A lot of the fundamental questions revolve around surgical quality, and neck dissection is the standard surgical approach for management of the neck in these patients. And as we enter the quality era, how do we define benchmarks of surgical quality, which is one thing that it deals with.
The other is when to do adjuvant therapy like adjuvant radiation or chemoradiation. We also deal with when to do surgery for the neck or to do nonoperative approaches like radiation or chemoradiation. And then lastly, how do you follow patients after you've treated them? So those are kind of the salient issues that we dealt with.
And what we came out with was nothing earth shatteringly new, but I think the way it was organized and systematically put together, I think it's going to be really, really helpful for people. So some of the most important findings that this recommendation does, I think this is the first that incorporates surgical quality, as I mentioned before. So specifically neck dissection should have 18 or more nodes as multiple studies have shown that that's associated with better outcomes. And similarly we define for different diseases of oral cavity and oropharynx, and depending on what kind of tumor it is and where, what nodal levels should be dissected or treated, whether surgically or nonsurgically, and when to do just one side of the neck versus both sides of the neck. So I think there's a lot of good guidance there in terms of the surgical quality.
From a standpoint of adjuvant therapy, we define pretty clearly indications for when after surgery for oral cavity cancer, for example, when radiation should be added and when chemoradiation should be added, and I think that's very helpful. And especially for the neck itself, there's been confusion about what happens if I have 30 nodes taken out and they're all negative but I have a big, large primary tumor. What do I do with the