From January 1975 through July 1987 at the Mayo Clinic, 16 patients received postoperative adjuvant radiation therapy for squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil (pathologic stage I in 4 patients, stage III in 3, and stage IV in 9). Follow-up was continued for a minimum of 2 years or until death. At 5 years, overall survival was 74% and disease-free survival was 68% for the entire group of patients. The local-regional control rate at 5 years was 83% for 12 patients with pathologic stage III or IV disease; the 5-year disease-free survival rate was 74%. The results with use of postoperative irradiation for stage III or IV tonsillar cancer seem superior to those for a similar historical group of patients who underwent surgical treatment only. Because the number of patients was small and the analysis was retrospective, our study may have included some undetected bias.
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