Background: The improvement in locoregional control of head and neck carcinomas over the last decades does not appear to modify the final survival of these patients, mainly due to the appearance of distant metastases and second neoplasms. We ran a study to evaluate the incidence of second neoplasms and their characteristics in patients with head and neck carcinoma treated in our hospital.
Methods: A retrospective study was undertaken to analyze the appearance of second neoplasm, its characteristics, and repercussion on the survival in 1845 patients with carcinoma of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, and larynx diagnosed and treated in our department between 1984 and 1995.
Results: A group of 302 patients (16%) developed a second neoplasm. The incidence of second neoplasms was 4% per year and was constant during the follow-up period. Second neoplasms were mainly carcinomas located in head and neck (40%), lungs (31%), or esophagus (9%). Twenty percent of second neoplasms were tumors located outside the aerodigestive tract. The appearance of a second neoplasm significantly worsened the survival.
Conclusions: Four percent per year of patients with carcinoma of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, and larynx develop a second neoplasm, most frequently a carcinoma of the aerodigestive tract. This leads to a significant worsening of survival.