Publication Abstract

Authors: Dansky Ullmann C, Harlan LC, Shavers VL, Stevens JL

Title: A population-based study of therapy and survival for patients with head and neck cancer treated in the community.

Journal: Cancer 118(18):4452-61

Date: 2012 Sep 15

Abstract: BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to examine patterns of care and survival in a population-based sample of patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) who were treated in the community or in hospitals that had residency training programs. METHODS: Data from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program were used to sample 1317 patients aged ≥20 years with invasive squamous HNC who were diagnosed during 2004 and who had vital status available through 2008. RESULTS: Treatment and survival were influenced by tumor site and disease stage. Patients who had stage I/II cancer of the oral cavity generally underwent surgery; patients with stage III oral cavity disease underwent surgery and received radiation; and patients with stage IV oral cavity disease underwent surgery and received chemoradiation. Patients with early stage cancer of the oropharynx either underwent surgery or received radiation and chemotherapy, and patients with late/unstaged oropharyngeal disease primarily received radiation and chemotherapy. Patients with early stage cancer of the larynx mainly received radiation alone, and patients with late stage laryngeal disease generally received chemoradiation. Cisplatin-based regimens were used most frequently. Overall, taxanes were used in 32% of regimens, and cetuximab was used in <3% of regimens. Patients aged ≥50 years, those with a Charlson comorbidity score ≥1, those with stage IV disease, and those with cancer located in the oral cavity or larynx had poorer survival. Although facilities with residency training programs treated more black patients and more patients with late stage disease, when adjusted for other factors, survival rates were similar to those reported in facilities with no such programs. CONCLUSIONS: Therapy generally followed accepted standards for 2004. Findings in particular tumor sites and stages may reflect the variability that still exists for the treatment of HNC. The use of taxanes and cetuximab is expected to increase based on new evidence of benefit. Reducing treatment-related toxicities and long-term functional deficits will be critical and especially important with the increase in human papillomavirus-related cancers. In addition, further attempts to improve survival for older patients are needed.