Division Chief, Comprehensive Otolaryngology, Stanford University School of Medicine (2019 - Present) Otolaryngology Clerkship Director, Stanford University School of Medicine (2017 - Present) Director of Otolaryngology, Queens Hospital Center, Jamaica, NY, USA (2011 - 2015) Assistant Regional Director of Otolaryngology, Queens Health Network, Queens, NY, USA (2011 - 2015)


  • Head and Neck Cancer Among Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Patients-Disparities in Cancer Stage at Presentation and Survival Outcomes Compared With Other Races: A Population-Based Cohort Study. JAMA otolaryngology-- head & neck surgery Moon, P. K., Ma, Y., Megwalu, U. C. 2022


    Importance: Research studies often group Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander individuals together with Asian individuals despite being consistently identified as having worse health outcomes and higher rates of comorbidities and mortality. Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander individuals also have high incidence rates of oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer compared with the general population; however, disparities in clinical presentation and survival outcomes of head and neck cancer squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) among this population have not been investigated nor compared with those of other races.Objective: To determine the association of race with cancer stage at diagnosis and survival outcomes among Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander patients with HNSCC compared with Asian and non-Hispanic White patients.Design, Setting, and Participants: This was a retrospective population-based cohort study using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) 18 database. Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and non-Hispanic White adult patients diagnosed in 1988 through 2015 with HNSCC of the oral cavity, oropharynx, nasopharynx, larynx, and hypopharynx were included; any patient whose record was missing data on disease or demographic information was excluded.Main Outcomes and Measures: Cancer stage at presentation was compared among Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and non-Hispanic White patients using a multivariable logistic regression model. Survival outcomes were compared among these racial groups using Cox regression models. Data analyses were performed from July 1, 2021, to March 20, 2022.Results: The total study population comprised 76 473 patients: 4894 Asian (mean [SD] age at presentation, 60.7 [14.6] years), 469 Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (57.8 [12.3] years), and 71 110 non-Hispanic White (62.2 [12.1] years) individuals. Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander patients were more likely to present with advanced-stage HNSCC (odds ratio [OR] 1.38; 95% CI, 1.12 -1.72) compared with non-Hispanic White patients. Asian patients presented with similar stage disease (OR, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.97-1.11) compared with non-Hispanic White patients. Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander patients had worse disease-specific survival (HR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.02-1.36) compared with non-Hispanic White patients after adjusting for clinical and demographic factors. In contrast, Asian patients had improved disease-specific survival (HR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.88-0.98) compared with non-Hispanic White patients.Conclusions and Relevance: This retrospective population-based cohort study suggests that Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander race was associated with more advanced HNSCC, and worse disease-specific survival compared with non-Hispanic White race, while Asian race was associated with improved survival. This study highlights the importance of disaggregating Asian from Pacific Islander data when assessing health disparities, and the need for culturally sensitive interventions to promote earlier detection of head and neck cancer and improved survival among the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population.

    View details for DOI 10.1001/jamaoto.2022.1086

    View details for PubMedID 35616952

  • Moving Beyond Detection: Charting a Path to Eliminate Health Care Disparities in Otolaryngology. Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Bowe, S. N., Megwalu, U. C., Bergmark, R. W., Balakrishnan, K. 2022: 1945998221094460


    The coronavirus pandemic has illuminated long-standing inequities in America's health care system and societal structure. While numerous studies have identified health care disparities within our specialty, few have progressed beyond detection. Otolaryngologists have the opportunity and the responsibility to act. Within this article, leaders from otolaryngology share their experience and perspective on health care disparities, including (1) a discussion of disparities in otolaryngology, (2) a summary of health care system design and incentives, (3) an overview of implicit bias, and (4) practical recommendations for providers to advance their awareness of health care disparities and the actions to mitigate them. While the path forward can be daunting, it should not be a deterrent. Throughout the course of this article, numerous resources are provided to support these efforts. To move ahead, our specialty needs to advance our level of understanding and develop, implement, and disseminate successful interventions toward the goal of eliminating health care disparities.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/01945998221094460

    View details for PubMedID 35439090

  • Systemic Steroids for Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Disorders: An Evidence-Based Primer for Clinicians. Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery McCoul, E. D., Megwalu, U. C., Joe, S., Gray, R., O'Brien, D. C., Ference, E. H., Lee, V. S., Patel, P. S., Figueroa-Morales, M. A., Shin, J. J., Brenner, M. J. 2022: 1945998221087664


    OBJECTIVE: To offer pragmatic, evidence-informed guidance on the use of systemic corticosteroids (SCS) for common otolaryngologic disorders.DATA SOURCES: PubMed, Cochrane Library, and American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation clinical practice guidelines.REVIEW METHODS: A comprehensive search of published literature through November 2021 was conducted on the efficacy of SCS, alone or in combination with other treatments, for managing disorders in otolaryngology and the subdisciplines. Clinical practice guidelines, systematic reviews, and randomized controlled trials, when available, were preferentially retrieved. Interventions and outcomes of SCS use were compiled to generate summary tables and narrative synthesis of findings.CONCLUSIONS: Evidence on the effectiveness of SCS varies widely across otolaryngology disorders. High-level evidence supports SCS use for Bell's palsy, sinonasal polyposis, and lower airway disease. Conversely, evidence is weak or absent for upper respiratory tract infection, eustachian tube dysfunction, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, adenotonsillar hypertrophy, or nonallergic rhinitis. Evidence is indeterminate for acute laryngitis, acute pharyngitis, acute sinusitis, angioedema, chronic rhinosinusitis without polyps, Meniere's disease, postviral olfactory loss, postoperative nerve paresis/paralysis, facial pain, and sudden sensorineural hearing loss.IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Clinicians should bring an evidence-informed lens to SCS prescribing to best counsel patients regarding the risks, anticipated benefits, and limited data on long-term effects. Alternate routes of corticosteroid administration-such as sprays, drops, inhalers, and intralesional injections-may be preferable for many disorders, particularly those that are self-limited or require a prolonged duration of therapy. Prudent use of SCS reduces the risk of medication-related adverse effects. Clinicians who are conversant with high-level evidence can achieve optimal outcomes and stewardship when prescribing SCS.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/01945998221087664

    View details for PubMedID 35349383

  • Risk of Second Primary Malignancies After External Beam Radiotherapy for Thyroid Cancer. Anticancer research Jin, M. C., Qian, Z. J., Megwalu, U. C. 2022; 42 (3): 1359-1365


    AIM: To investigate the association between external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) and the incidence of second primary tumors in patients with thyroid cancer.MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data were extracted from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results 9 database. The study cohort included patients diagnosed with thyroid cancer between 1973 and 2017. Risk factors for second primary malignancies were identified with Cox proportional hazards models. Propensity score-matched analyses were used to assess the association between EBRT and second primary malignancies.RESULTS: Out of 72,392 patients with thyroid cancer, 7,684 (10.6%) developed a subsequent primary malignancy. Propensity score-matched analysis demonstrated patients receiving EBRT were more likely to develop second primary malignancies [30-year cumulative incidence=35.3% (95% confidence interval (CI)=30.4-39.8% vs. 28.1% (95% CI=27.0-29.2%); hazard ratio=1.17 (95% CI=1.03-1.33)].CONCLUSION: In patients with thyroid cancer, EBRT is associated with an increased incidence of second primary malignancies.

    View details for DOI 10.21873/anticanres.15605

    View details for PubMedID 35220228

  • Benign Ectopic Thyroid in the Lateral (Level II) Neck Compartment CUREUS JOURNAL OF MEDICAL SCIENCE Liu, G. S., Berry, G. J., Desai, K., Megwalu, U. C. 2022; 14 (2)
  • Thyroid Cancer Incidence and Mortality Trends in the United States: 2000 - 2018. Thyroid : official journal of the American Thyroid Association Megwalu, U., Moon, P. K. 2022


    BACKGROUND: Thyroid cancer incidence has significantly increased in the United States over the past few decades. Recent studies have suggested a change in thyroid cancer incidence trends following 2013. The objective of this study was to update the data on thyroid cancer incidence and mortality trends in the US.METHODS: Thyroid cancer incidence and incidence-based mortality trends were evaluated using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-18 cancer registry. Cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed in 2000-2018, and thyroid cancer deaths during 2000-2018 were included. Annual percent change (APC) was calculated using joinpoint regression analysis.RESULTS: Among 197,070 patients, female (75.6%) and white (81.0%) patients comprised the majority of cases. Papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) was the most common histology (89.1%). Incidence rates increased during 2000 - 2009 (APC 6.80, 95% CI 6.46 to 7.13) and 2009-2014 (APC 2.58, 95% CI 1.71 to 3.47), then decreased during 2014-2018 (APC -2.33, 95% CI -3.15 to -1.51). The incidence trends for PTC overall, localized disease, and tumors ≤ 1.0 cm mirrored the overall thyroid cancer trends, while incidence rates for regional disease stabilized during 2015-2018 (APC -1.65, 95% CI -4.09 to 0.84). The incidence of distant disease decreased during 2015-2018 (APC (APC -17.86, 95% CI -26.47 to -8.25). The incidence of tumors ≤ 1.0 cm decreased (APC -5.83, 95% CI -7.24 to -4.40), while the incidence of tumors 1.1 - 2.0 cm (APC -0.10, 95% CI -1.16 to 0.96), 2.1 - 4.0 cm (APC 1.12, 95% CI -0.17 to 2.43), and > 4.0 cm (APC -1.13, 95% CI -4.58 to 2.45) stabilized during the most recent 4 - 6 years. Incidence-based mortality increased throughout 2000-2018 (average APC 1.35, 95% CI 0.88 to 1.82).CONCLUSION: Thyroid cancer incidence rates have declined since 2014. Similar declines are noted for PTC, localized disease, and tumors ≤ 1.0 cm, but not for tumors > 2.0 cm. Incidence-based mortality rates continue to increase. These findings suggest that changing patterns in the management of thyroid nodules may have led to a decrease in diagnosis of small indolent tumors, but not more advanced tumors.

    View details for DOI 10.1089/thy.2021.0662

    View details for PubMedID 35132899

  • Benign Ectopic Thyroid in the Lateral (Level II) Neck Compartment. Cureus Liu, G. S., Berry, G. J., Desai, K., Megwalu, U. C. 2022; 14 (2): e22140


    Ectopic thyroid most commonly presents in the midline and is typically associated with the absence of an orthotopic thyroid. Less commonly, ectopic thyroid can present in the lateral neck, typically with a coexisting orthotopic thyroid and abnormal pathology in either the ectopic or orthotopic thyroid tissue. This paper describes a rare case of a benign, ectopic thyroid in the lateral neck (level II) associated with a normal, benign orthotopic thyroid. This report illustrates clinical pearls for the management of this unusual entity.

    View details for DOI 10.7759/cureus.22140

    View details for PubMedID 35308702

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8920790

  • Evidence-Based Medicine in Otolaryngology, Part XIII: Health Disparities Research and Advancing Health Equity. Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Megwalu, U. C., Raol, N. P., Bergmark, R., Osazuwa-Peters, N., Brenner, M. J. 2022: 1945998221087138


    To provide a contemporary resource for clinicians and researchers on health equity research and implementation strategies to mitigate or eliminate disparities in health care.Published studies and literature on health disparities, applicable research methodologies, and social determinants of health in otolaryngology.Literature through October 2021 was reviewed, including consensus statements, guidelines, and scientific publications related to health care equity research. This research focus provides insights into existing disparities, why they occur, and the outcomes of interventions designed to resolve them. Progress toward equity requires intentionality in implementing quality improvement initiatives, tracking data, and fostering culturally competent care. Priority areas include improving access, removing barriers to care, and ensuring appropriate and effective treatment. Although research into health care disparities has advanced significantly in recent years, persistent knowledge gaps remain. Applying the lens of equity to data science can promote evidence-based practices and optimal strategies to reduce health inequities.Health disparities research has a critical role in advancing equity in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. The phases of disparities research include detection, understanding, and reduction of disparities. A multilevel approach is necessary for understanding disparities, and health equity extensions can improve the rigor of evidence-based data synthesis. Finally, applying an equity lens is essential when designing and evaluating health care interventions, to minimize bias.Understanding the data and practices related to disparities research may help promote an evidence-based approach to care of individual patients and populations, with the potential to eventually surmount the negative effects of health care disparities.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/01945998221087138

    View details for PubMedID 35316118

  • Differential Outcomes Among Survivors of Head and Neck Cancer Belonging to Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups. JAMA otolaryngology-- head & neck surgery Taylor, D. B., Osazuwa-Peters, O. L., Okafor, S. I., Boakye, E. A., Kuziez, D., Perera, C., Simpson, M. C., Barnes, J. M., Bulbul, M. G., Cannon, T. Y., Watts, T. L., Megwalu, U. C., Varvares, M. A., Osazuwa-Peters, N. 1800


    Importance: Approximately 1 in 5 new patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) in the US belong to racial and ethnic minority groups, but their survival rates are worse than White individuals. However, because most studies compare Black vs White patients, little is known about survival differences among members of racial and ethnic minority groups.Objective: To describe differential survival and identify nonclinical factors associated with stage of presentation among patients with HNC belonging to racial and ethnic minority groups.Design, Setting, and Participants: This population-based retrospective cohort study used data from the 2007 to 2016 Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database and included non-Hispanic Black, Asian Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic patients with HNC. The data were analyzed from December 2020 to May 2021.Main Outcomes and Measures: Outcomes were time to event measures: (HNC-specific and all-cause mortality) and stage of presentation. Covariates included nonclinical (age at diagnosis, sex, race and ethnicity, insurance status, marital status, and a composite socioeconomic status [SES]) and clinical factors (stage, cancer site, chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery). A Cox regression model was used to adjust associations of covariates with the hazard of all-cause death, and a Fine and Gray competing risks proportional hazards model was used to estimate associations of covariates with the hazard of HNC-specific death. A proportional log odds ordinal logistic regression identified which nonclinical factors were associated with stage of presentation.Results: There were 21 966 patients with HNC included in the study (mean [SD] age, 56.02 [11.16] years; 6072 women [27.6%]; 9229 [42.0%] non-Hispanic Black, 6893 [31.4%] Hispanic, 5342 [24.3%] Asian/Pacific Islander, and 502 [2.3%] American Indian/Alaska Native individuals). Black patients had highest proportion with very low SES (3482 [37.7%]) and the lowest crude 5-year overall survival (46%). After adjusting for covariates, Hispanic individuals had an 11% lower subdistribution hazard ratio (sdHR) of HNC-specific mortality (sdHR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.83-0.95), 15% lower risk for Asian/Pacific Islander individuals (sdHR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.78-0.93), and a trending lower risk for American Indian/Alaska Native individuals (sdHR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.71-1.01), compared with non-Hispanic Black individuals. Race, sex, insurance, marital status, and SES were consistently associated with all-cause mortality, HNC-specific mortality, and stage of presentation, with non-Hispanic Black individuals faring worse compared with individuals of other racial and ethnic minority groups.Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study that included only patients with HNC who were members of racial and ethnic minority groups, Black patients had significantly worse outcomes that were not completely explained by stage of presentation. There may be unexplored multilevel factors that are associated with social determinants of health and disparities in HNC outcomes.

    View details for DOI 10.1001/jamaoto.2021.3425

    View details for PubMedID 34940784

  • Thyroid Cancer Incidence Trends Among Filipinos in the United States. The Laryngoscope Megwalu, U. C., Osazuwa-Peters, N., Moon, P., Palaniappan, L. P. 1800


    OBJECTIVE: To analyze thyroid cancer incidence trends among Filipinos relative to non-Filipino Asians and non-Hispanic Whites in the US.STUDY DESIGN: Population-based analysis of cancer incidence data.METHODS: Population-based analysis of cancer incidence data from Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results 9 detailed Asian/Pacific Islander subgroup incidence and population datasets. Adult patients aged 20 and older with thyroid cancer diagnosed in 2004 to 2014 were included. Annual percent change (APC) of the incidence rates were calculated using joinpoint regression analysis.RESULTS: The incidence rates were 19.57 (95% CI 19.03-20.12) per 100,000 for Filipinos, 10.45 (95% CI 10.22-10.68) per 100,000 for non-Filipino Asians, and 13.94 (95% CI 13.85-14.02) per 100,000 for non-Hispanic Whites. The highest increase was seen among non-Hispanic Whites (average APC 5.04, 95% CI 4.61-5.46). Incidence rates of tumors≤2cm remained stable among Filipinos but increased in non-Filipino Asians (average APC 5.38, 95% CI 2.51-8.34) and non-Hispanic Whites (average APC 5.81 95% CI 4.52-7.11).CONCLUSION: Filipinos have high incidence of thyroid cancer compared with other racial/ethnic groups. However, non-Hispanic Whites have the highest increase in incidence rates, resulting in a significant narrowing of the gap in incidence rates between Filipinos and non-Hispanic Whites. This is most likely due to enhanced detection of small tumors in non-Hispanic Whites. Laryngoscope, 2021.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/lary.29986

    View details for PubMedID 34910822

Research Goals

Our purpose is to conduct research that directly impacts health care delivery and health outcomes for patients with diseases of the head and neck. Our multi-disciplinary team includes researchers, clinicians, and trainees with complimentary expertise and experience in clinical care and outcomes/health services research