Purpose: It is unknown whether there are survival disparities between men and women with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), although some data suggest that men have worse outcomes. We conducted a matched-pair study that controlled for several potentially confounding prognostic variables to assess whether a survival advantage exists for female compared with male SCCHN patients receiving similar care.
Experimental design: We selected 286 female patients and 286 matched male patients from within a prospective epidemiologic study on 1,654 patients with incident SCCHN evaluated and treated at a single large multidisciplinary cancer center. Matching variables included age (±10 y), race/ethnicity, smoking status (never versus ever), tumor site (oral cavity versus oropharynx versus larynx versus hypopharynx), tumor classification (T(1-2) versus T(3-4)), nodal status (negative versus positive), and treatment (surgery, radiation therapy, surgery and radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy, chemoradiotherapy, or surgery and chemoradiotherapy).
Results: Matched-pair and log-rank analyses showed no significant differences between women and men in recurrence-free, disease-specific, or overall survival. When the analysis was restricted to individual sites (oral cavity, oropharynx, or larynx/hypopharynx), there was also no evidence of a disparity in survival associated with sex.
Conclusions: We conclude that there is no evidence to suggest that a survival advantage exists for women as compared with men with SCCHN receiving similar multidisciplinary directed care at a tertiary cancer center.