Characteristics and long-term outcomes of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma after solid organ transplantation

Samer Alsidawi, Katharine A. Price, Ashish Chintakuntlawar, Gustavo F. Westin, Joaquin J. Garcia, Daniel J. Ma, Scott Heitaka Okuno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction Immunosuppression after solid organ transplant prevents graft rejection, but leads to increased incidence of various malignancies including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Outcomes of patients with post-transplant HNSCC are unknown. Materials and methods We retrospectively identified patients who developed HNSCC after solid organ transplant between 1995 and 2010. Adults with pathology-proven HNSCC and adequate follow up were included. Median overall survival and progression free survival were analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method. The prognostic effect of variables was studied with Cox proportional hazards models. Results Thirty-three patients met study inclusion criteria. The median time to diagnosis of HNSCC after transplant was 5.9 years. The primary site was oral cavity in 15 patients, oropharynx in 10, larynx in 3, hypopharynx in 2, parotid in 2 and unknown in 1 patient. Eighty-eight percent underwent upfront surgical resection. Of those, sixty-six percent received adjuvant therapy. Six percent of patients had definitive chemoradiation. Treatment was well tolerated and did not lead to graft rejection. The 5-year overall survival rate was 45% and 37% for localized and locally advanced disease respectively. Seventy-five percent of patients with oropharyngeal tumors were HPV-positive and they had better outcomes (5-year overall survival rate of 67%). In multivariate analysis, age ≥60 years was a negative predictor of survival (HR 2.7; 95% CI, 1.1–6.5; P = 0.03). Conclusions Patients with post-transplant HNSCC have relatively poor survival and high risk of locoregional and distant recurrence. HPV- positive oropharyngeal tumors continue to have better outcomes in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-109
Number of pages6
JournalOral Oncology
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Head and neck cancer
  • HPV
  • Immunocompromised host
  • Solid organ transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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