IMPORTANCE Salvage surgery for recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) carries substantial risks of morbidity and mortality. Risk factors for death within 1 year should be better defined. OBJECTIVES To report preoperative oncologic prognostic factors predictive of short-term (<1 year) survival after salvage surgery in patients with HNSCC, to assess whether preoperative age and comorbidity predicts 1-year mortality, and to report hospital courses after salvage surgery within 1 year. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS A retrospective medical record review of 191 patients with recurrent HNSCC treated with salvage surgery from January 1, 2003, through December 31, 2013, at a tertiary academic center. INTERVENTIONS Surgical salvage of HNSCC (larynx, oral cavity, oropharynx, or hypopharynx) with curative intent. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Primary outcomewas survival 1 year after salvage surgery. Secondary outcomeswere length of inpatient hospital stay, days of admissions, and skilled nursing facility disposition within 1 year stratified by survival status. Presalvage Charlson-Age Comorbidity Index (CACI)was calculated. Associations among CACI, oncologic risk factors, and risk of death within 1 year after salvage surgery are investigated using multivariable analysis. RESULTS Of 191 patients studied, 53 (27.7%) died within 1 year after salvage surgery. Patients who died within 1 year had more total inpatient admissions (P <.001), longer total length of stay (P <.001), and higher risk of discharge to a skilled nursing facility (P <.001) and spent 17.3%(interquartile range, 5.2-36.3) of their remaining days in the hospital. Independent risk factors for death within 1 year are CACI (relative risk [RR], 1.43; 95%CI, 1.16-1.76), primary T3 or T4 stage (RR, 2.34; 95%CI, 1.27-4.31), and disease-free interval of less than 6 months (RR, 5.61; 95%CI, 1.78-16.7). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Medical comorbidity and age as measured by the CACI, primary T3 or T4 stage, and short disease-free interval must be considered in selecting patients ideal for surgical salvage surgery for recurrent HNSCC. Patients with these risk factors should be more strongly considered for palliative measures.
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