Management of head and neck cancer in older patients

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Objective.A progressive increase in the number of older patients with head and neck cancer has been observed in the last few years. The aim of this study was to assess our experience in the management of older patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) in comparison with younger patients.Study Design.A retrospective review was conducted for all patients admitted and treated for newly diagnosed HNC between January 2008 and December 2012. The clinical characteristics, management approaches, and outcome data were recorded.Results.In total, 316 patients with HNC (232 males, 84 females) were enrolled: 203 (64%) were in the young group, whereas 113 patients (36%) were in the older group. Comorbidities (P < .000005) and stage IV tumors (P < .0005) were more frequently observed in the older group. Treatment options were uniformly distributed within the 2 groups; only radiotherapy alone was more frequently administered in older patients (P < .0005).Conclusions.Chronologic age should not be a reason to deny appropriate treatments that could prevent death in older patients. A careful pretreatment assessment should always be performed.

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