We sought to examine the current state of cancer care for head and neck tumors in the United States. We therefore performed a retrospective, longitudinal study of the approximately 822,000 head and neck cancer cases included in the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) for 1990 through 2004, representing approximately 75% of the estimated incident diagnoses in the United States.
All cases of head and neck cancer diagnosed and reported to the NCDB during this interval were reviewed, and descriptive statistics, grouped by disease and host factors, were analyzed over time and compared with a prior similar analysis done 10 years ago.
Although many similarities persist, several major changes in head and neck cancer have occurred, most notably (1) a decrease in the number of the older-aged patients who have mucosally derived squamous cell carcinomas coupled with an increase in the number of younger-aged patients who have thyroid-origin adenocarcinomas and (2) a decrease in the use of radiation therapy alone for treatment in favor of chemotherapy enhanced radiation therapy.
Head and neck cancers include a heterogeneous group of tumors whose precise composition changes over time and whose therapy evolves as well. The NCDB is well suited to capture this information and provide both an analysis of the current state of cancer care for head and neck tumors and a longitudinal view over time. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2009