Is definitive concurrent chemoradiotherapy effective for locally advanced head and neck cancer in the elderly aged ≥ 75 years: A single-institute, retrospective, cohort study

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Definitive chemoradiotherapy (CRT) is the standard treatment for locally advanced head and neck cancer (HNC). However, for very elderly patients, the comparison of benefit/risk between definitive radiotherapy (RT) with and without systemic chemotherapy was equivocal.

Patients and methods:

The study was a single-institute, retrospective, cohort study. Seventy patients aged ≥75 years who had a locally advanced HNC were enrolled. The patients were divided into those with CRT and those with RT alone. Survival, compliance/adverse events and independent prognostic factors were analyzed.


For baseline characteristics, the patients who received RT alone had worse performance status, comorbidity score and neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio. However, during definitive therapy, the CRT group had more adverse events such as neutropenia, febrile neutropenia and thrombocytopenia. There were no significant differences in disease-specific survival (DSS) and overall survival (OS) (P = 0.864 and 0.788, respectively). As to OS, several independent prognostic factors were identified. Performance status (hazard ratio [HR], 2.312; confidence interval [CI], 1.176–4.546; P = 0.015), clinical T staging (HR, 2.240; 95% CI, 1.021–4.913; P = 0.004) and total RT dose (HR, 2.555; 95% CI, 1.246–5.238; P = 0.010) were independent prognostic factors of OS.


Definitive RT with or without systemic chemotherapy did not significantly influence DSS and OS for very elderly patients. Therefore, for elderly patients aged ≥ 75 years who have HNC, conservative RT might be sufficient for treatment purposes.

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