Long-Term Survival Factors ID'd for Head, Neck Cancer

Older age, advanced stage, pain, poor quality of life, smoking up mortality in two-year survivors

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Older age, advanced stage, pain, poor quality of life, and smoking are risk factors associated with poorer survival among two-year survivors of head and neck cancer, according to a study published in the November issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

Trisha L. Thompson, from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, and colleagues investigated conditional survival rates, and risk factors of increased mortality in 276 patients with head and neck cancer who survived two years after diagnosis. Participants provided health-related information between September 2001 and September 2008. Observed survival (death from all causes), and disease-specific (cancer-related) survival were the primary outcomes.

The investigators found that the five-year observed and disease-specific survival rates were 90.8 and 94.8 percent, respectively, and were 29.7 and 25.0 percent higher, respectively, than the rates calculated at diagnosis. Older age and advanced stage correlated with poorer survival and disease-specific survival. Patients were more likely to die from all causes if they had pain or poor quality of life at two years, and were more likely to die from their cancer if they were still smoking two years after diagnosis.

"In addition to older age and advanced stage, pain, poor overall quality of life, and tobacco use two years after diagnosis characterize patients who might need longer and more intense follow-up care to improve their observed and disease-specific survival," the authors write.

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