Background: We analysed the outcomes of 726 cases of primary head and neck cancer patients managed between 1996 and 2008, including those managed in the multidisciplinary clinic or team setting (MDT) and those managed outside of an MDT by individual disciplines (non-MDT) in the same institution.
Methods: Data were collected from the Hospital Based Cancer Registry and a database within the Head and Neck Cancer Clinic. Univariable comparisons and multivariable analyses were performed using a logistic regression model. Survival by staging was analysed. Comparisons of management and outcomes were made between MDT and non-MDT patients.
Results: 395 patients (54%) had been managed in the MDT vs 331 patients (46%) non-MDT. MDT patients were more likely to have advanced disease (likelihood ratio χ(2)=44.7, P<0.001). Stage IV MDT patients had significantly improved 5-year survival compared with non-MDT patients (hazard ratio=0.69, 95% CI=0.51-0.88, P=0.004) and more synchronous chemotherapy and radiotherapy (P=0.004), and the non-MDT group had more radiotherapy as a single modality (P=0.002).
Conclusions: The improved survival of MDT-managed stage IV patients probably represents both the selection of multimodality treatment and chemotherapeutic advances that these patients received in a multidisciplinary team setting by head and neck cancer specialists as opposed to cancer generalists in a non-MDT setting.