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J Laryngol Otol. 2005 Mar;119(3):169-74.

Treatment considerations for head and neck cancer in the elderly.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.


As life expectancy increases, surgeons can expect an increasing number of geriatric patients. In turn, the number of elderly patients presenting with head and neck cancer is likely to increase. Management of this subpopulation has become a source of debate because there is a paucity of randomized data regarding the effect of age on treatment response and morbidity associated with the treatment of head and neck cancer. The management of head and neck cancer in the elderly depends on the patient's age and general condition, the stage of disease, the effects of treatment on quality of life (such as speech and swallowing), patient and family wishes, and active physician participation in continued care. Elderly patient's comorbid conditions need appropriate attention especially if surgery is to be undertaken. The aim of this review is to examine the current literature in an attempt to develop an approach to the treatment of the elderly patient with head and neck cancer and to define the pertinent issues that require further study.

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