Annual incidence of head and neck cancers worldwide more than 550,000 cases

Annual incidence of head and neck cancers worldwide more than 550,000 cases

Kolkata, The annual incidence of head and neck cancers worldwide is more than 550,000 cases with around 300,000 deaths each year. Male to female ratio ranges from 2:1 to 4:1. About 90 per cent of all head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). HNSCC is the sixth leading cancer by incidence worldwide. Most HNSCCs arise in the epithelial lining of the oral cavity, oropharynx, larynx and hypopharynx . These cancers are strongly associated with certain environmental and lifestyle risk factors like tobacco and alcohol consumption. More recently a new disease has emerged related to several strains of human papilloma virus (HPV). The prognosis of these patients is substantially better than those associated with tobacco. The five-year overall survival rate of patients with HNSCC is about 40-50 per cent. About one third of patients present with early stage disease. Treatment for early HNSCC usually involves single-modality therapy with either surgery or radiation.

Survival is comparable for the two approaches. Early stage cancers have a very favorable prognosis with high cure rates with surgery or radiation alone and chemotherapy or concurrent chemotherapy/radiation is not indicated. For patients with pathologically staged III, IVa/b head and neck cancer, postoperative concomitant chemo-radiation with cisplatin has shown improvement in local-regional control and survival rates for those with positive microscopic surgical margins and/or extra-capsular nodal extension . Head and neck cancer encompasses many site-specific cancers, including oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers. Studies have estimated the global incidence of all head and neck cancers to be between 400,000 and 600,000 new cases per year and the mortality rate to between 223,000 and 300,000 deaths per year. Alcohol and tobacco are known risk factors for most head and neck cancers, and incidence rates are found to be higher in regions with high rates of alcohol and tobacco consumption.

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