Background This study was designed to identify the factors associated with the outcome after standard treatment with surgery and postoperative radiotherapy (RT) for locally advanced salivary gland cancers. Methods We conducted a retrospective review of patients with salivary gland cancers registered in the University of Pittsburgh databases from 1990 to 2006. Results A total of 74 patients were analyzed. Histologic types included salivary duct carcinoma, 24%; adenoid cystic carcinoma, 23%; and adenocarcinoma, 19%; N2, 39%; N0-1, 58%; and major salivary gland origin, 80%. With a median follow-up of 4.1 years, the 5-year recurrence-free survival (RFS) was 49%, and the 5-year overall survival (OS) was 55%. The 5-year local RFS was 76% and the 5-year distant RFS was 60%. Using Cox-regression analysis, advanced N classification (N2) was the only significant predictor of both RFS and OS. Conclusion The long-term survival of patients with high-risk, locally advanced salivary gland cancers is unsatisfactory. Advanced nodal disease is strongly associated with patient outcome and should be considered as a stratification factor in future trials in locally advanced salivary gland cancers.
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