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The purpose of this study was to compare the risk factors obtained from a classical statistical method (Cox proportional hazards model) and the results obtained with classification trees (Chi-square Automatic Interaction Detection [CHAID] model) in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).We conducted a retrospective study of 3373 patients with HNSCC and a follow-up longer than 2 years.The most decisive variable classified by CHAID was T category. N classification was an important prognostic factor in the Cox analysis, but this was not considered in CHAID except in T2 and supraglottic T3. CHAID also indicated that women with oral cavity T3/T4 to N0 tumors had poorer prognosis (28%) than men (58.5%;pvalue < .001). In oropharynx location, men had lower survival than women (41% vs 72%;pvalue < .001).The main benefit of CHAID analysis is that it identifies a relatively small number of patients with a singular behavior, which is more discriminatory for an optimal diagnosis and treatment.