Surgical treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil


  • Read at the meeting of the American College of Surgeons, San Francisco, Calif., October 2–6, 1972.


From 1960 through 1968, we examined 117 patients with carcinoma of the tonsil. Of these 117 patients a choice of the primary treatment modality existed for 96 patients, and 68 percent had surgery as their initial treatment. The absolute five-year survival for all patients undergoing surgical procedures designed to cure was 48 percent. Tonsillar cancers are neither anaplastic nor markedly radiosensitive. The incidence of local recurrence in seven published series in which the primary tonsillar cancer was treated with radiation averaged 49 percent. We believe that the local recurrence rate of 19 percent in our surgical series reflects our dependence on frozen tissue examination and suggests that surgery offers a good chance of eradicating operable tonsillar carcinoma.