The data indicate that SCC of the various subsites of the oropharynx can be treated successfully with acceptable locoregional control and survival rates by using either surgery or primary radiotherapy for T1 or T2 primary lesions. Treatment success data for late-stage disease (T3 and T4) are less encouraging, regardless of which modality is used or which treatment center is administering treatment. This finding may suggest an intrinsic property of these lesions or the patient that may be going unnoticed. One problem is that the diversity of approaches to these lesions hinders any meaningful comparisons between series from different treatment centers. There exists heterogeneity in patient populations and approaches to staging and characterization of these diseases. This situation has ensured the same heterogeneity in treatment philosophy, which is largely institutionally based.
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