Small Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck: The University of Miami Experience

Georges F. Hatoum, Brandon Patton, Cristiane Takita, May Abdel-Wahab, Kelly LaFave, Donald Weed, Isildinha M. Reis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Purpose: To describe the University of Miami experience in the treatment of small cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Methods and Materials: A total of 12 patients with nonmetastatic small cell carcinoma of the head and neck were treated between April 1987 and September 2007. Radiotherapy was the primary local treatment modality for 8 patients. Results: Of the 12 patients, 8 had died after a median follow-up of 13 months. The 4 patients who were alive were followed for a median of 14 months. The Kaplan-Meier estimate of the proportion of small cell head-and-neck cancer patients surviving to 1 and 2 years was 63% and 26%, respectively. The percentage of patients remaining disease free at 1 and 2 years was 71% and 44%, respectively. The patients with tonsil/parotid gland cancer had significantly greater disease-specific survival compared with the other patients. The median survival time was 30 months in the tonsil/parotid group compared with 15.2 months in the other group (patients with small cell carcinoma of the sinonasal cavity, nasopharynx, and larynx). A total of 4 patients developed recurrence, 3 of whom had a distant failure component. The treatment modality was not associated with a difference in disease-specific survival. The 1-year disease-specific survival rate was 73% in the radiotherapy or radiotherapy/chemotherapy group compared with 67% in the other group. Conclusion: Radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy is a reasonable alternative to surgery for patients with small cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Patients with tonsillar or parotid small cell carcinomas did better than other sites. More aggressive treatment might be warranted for patients with sinonasal carcinoma. The outcome, however, continues to be suboptimal, and more effective therapy is needed because most patients had a component of local and distant failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-481
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009


  • Chemotherapy
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Radiotherapy
  • Small cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation
  • Cancer Research


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