BACKGROUND: We evaluated the impact of center expertise, in terms of number of patients treated, on the overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
METHODS: We performed a pooled analysis including data from 6 randomized trials in head and neck SCC conducted in Italy. We evaluated the association between OS or PFS and the number of patients recruited by the center.
RESULTS: The outcome of 903 patients who had received radiotherapy (RT) was analyzed (median follow-up 76 months). The hazard ratio (HR) comparing the third and the first quartiles of the distribution of number of patients per center showed an advantage in PFS (HR 0.59, range 0.53-0.65, P < .0001) and in OS (HR 0.70, 0.60-0.81, P < .0001) for centers with a higher number of patients recruited. A similar benefit was observed in PFS (HR 0.63, 0.60-0.66) and OS (HR 0.74, 0.69-0.79) considering the mean number of patients per year.
CONCLUSIONS: The PFS and OS were longer for patients treated in high-case-volume centers.