Treatment in elderly patients with head and neck cancer : A challenging dilemma

HNO. 2016 Apr;64(4):217-20. doi: 10.1007/s00106-016-0138-6.


Despite the increasing number of elderly patients requiring treatment for head and neck cancer, there is insufficient available evidence about the oncological results of treatment and its tolerability in such patients. Owing to comorbidities, elderly patients often need complex evaluation and pretreatment management, which often results in their exclusion from clinical trials. The question of which patients constitute the highest-risk groups regarding treatment-related morbidity and mortality, and who can tolerate and benefit from aggressive treatment, has not been adequately studied. Biologic rather than chronologic age should be a more important factor in treatment protocols. Age-specific prospective clinical studies are needed on the treatment of head and neck cancer in elderly patients.

Keywords: Comorbidity; Elderly; Head and neck cancer; Survival; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chemoradiotherapy / mortality*
  • Chemoradiotherapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Health Services for the Aged / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures / mortality*
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome