Incidence of head and neck cancer in children: A Danish nationwide study from 1978 to 2014

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Abstract

Background:

Pediatric head and neck malignancies are rare and only a few descriptive epidemiological studies have been published. Using unique nationwide registries, we report age-specific incidence rates of head and neck cancer (HNC) among children during four decades.

Methods:

Data were obtained from the Danish Cancer Registry. We included children aged 0–14 years diagnosed between January 1, 1978 and December 31, 2014 with extra-orbital, nonskin and nonbone HNC. Patients were divided into nine groups in regard to tumor location: oral cavity, oropharynx, nasopharynx, hypopharynx, thyroid, major salivary glands, larynx, and middle ear. Based on the World Health Organization standard population and Danish age-specific population counts, age-adjusted incidence rates (AAIR) and average annual percentage change (AAPC) were calculated and examined for trends.

Results:

In total, 169 children (55.6% females) were registered with a malignant tumor in the head and neck region. The AAIR increased with an AAPC of 2.2% (95% CI, 0.8–3.7%). Females showed an AAIR of 0.54 per 100,000 person years compared to that of males, with 0.41 per 100,000 person years (P < 0.01). The AAIR was higher among children aged 10–14 years compared to 0–9-year-old children (P < 0.01). Based on morphology, a significant increase in AAIR was observed for sarcomas, with an increase of 0.16–0.27 per 100,000 person years (P < 0.05).

Conclusions:

The incidence rate of pediatric HNC was higher among females and evidence of increasing rates was observed during 1978–2014, explained by an increase mainly in sarcomas.

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