High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in patients with head and neck cancer at diagnosis

Head Neck. 2012 Oct;34(10):1450-5. doi: 10.1002/hed.21954. Epub 2012 Jan 27.


Background: Low serum levels of vitamin D, measured as serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (S-25-OHD), have been observed in several cancers.

Methods: Sixty-five adult patients with head and neck cancer, 50 men, median age 61 years (range, 33-77 years), were enrolled in this prospective cohort study. Concentrations of S-25-OHD and plasma calcium (Ca) and phosphate (Pi) were measured before cancer treatment.

Results: The mean S-25-OHD was 42.0 (SD 22) nmol/L. Hypovitaminosis D (37.5-50 nmol/L) was found in 20% of the patients and vitamin D deficiency (<37.5 nmol/L) in 45% of the patients. No seasonal variation was seen. Subnormal plasma Ca and Pi levels were found in 11% and 9% of the patients, respectively.

Conclusion: Subnormal vitamin D levels were found in a significant proportion of the patients. Because vitamin D deficiency may pose these patients to increased risk of therapy-related morbidity, special attention should be paid to correction of this nutritional deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / blood*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck
  • Survival Analysis
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology*