Patterns of Care for Elderly Patients With Locally Advanced Head and Neck Cancer

Jesus E. Juarez, Jehee Choi, Maie St John, Elliot Abemayor, Mindi TenNapel, Allen M. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: To compare patterns of care for elderly patients aged ≥70 years with locally advanced head and neck cancer versus those of younger patients treated for the same disease. Methods and Materials: The medical records of 421 consecutive patients over the age of 50 years treated at a single institution between April 2011 and June 2016 for stage III/IV squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck were reviewed. The primary treatment approach was compared using a t test statistic among 3 age cohorts: 50 to 59 years (118 patients); 60 to 69 years (152 patients); and 70 years and older (151 patients). Logistical regression was used to determine variables that influenced the likelihood of receiving surgery versus nonsurgical treatment, as well as radiation alone versus chemoradiation. Results: There was no difference in sex, T stage, N stage, Karnofsky performance status, or the number of chronic comorbid conditions among the 3 age cohorts (P>.05 for all). A greater proportion of elderly patients aged ≥70 years were treated by radiation alone compared with those aged 50 to 59 and 60 to 69 years (44% vs 16% and 24%, P=.01). Increasing age was associated with a greater likelihood of receiving primary nonsurgical versus surgical treatment (odds ratio 1.023, 95% confidence interval 1.004-1.042) and radiation alone compared with chemoradiation (odds ratio 1.054; 95% confidence interval 1.034-1.075). Ten chemotherapy regimens were used concurrently with radiation for patients aged ≥70 years, including carboplatin/paclitaxel (19%), carboplatin/cetuximab (19%), cisplatin (17%), and cetuximab (17%). Conclusions: Despite similar performance status and comorbidity burden compared with their younger counterparts, patients aged ≥70 years were more commonly treated with less-aggressive strategies, including radiation alone. The variability of concurrent chemotherapy regimens used further suggests that the standard of care remains to be defined for this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
StateAccepted/In press - Nov 2 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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