Objective: The age standardized rate of head and neck cancer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is 5.7% with nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) accounting for >40% of all head and neck cancers. This study intends to compare age specific incidence of NPC in KSA and other countries.
Methods: Data from the National Cancer Registry for KSA during the period 1994 through to 1996 was compared with data from the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (ARC) in Singapore, China, Kuwait and Canada.
Results: There were 373 diagnosed Saudi patients with NPC with high incidence among the young population, with 42/373 (22 males/20 females) patients in the first 20 years of life, showing a sharp increase both in boys and girls until the ages of 12-14 years. From that point the incidence curve for both males and females separates. In females the incidence flattens without an identifiable zenith from the age of 12-14 years and above, compared with their male counterpart where they have another peak in the fifth decade.
Conclusion: Our study indicates a definite early onset of this malignancy in KSA and a similar pattern to that of China and Singapore. Definite increased incidence, at a young age among both sexes, suggests a possible underlying genetic susceptibility in Saudis.