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Laryngoscope. 2008 Aug;118(8):1350-6. doi: 10.1097/MLG.0b013e318172ef9a.

Impact of second primary tumors on survival in head and neck cancer: an analysis of 2,063 cases.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Rikshospitalet Medical Centre, Oslo, Norway.



To investigate the impact of second primary tumors on prognosis for patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).


Prospectively recorded data on HNSCC patients treated at an academic tertiary referral center.


An analysis of 2,063 patients treated over a 15 year period for tumors of the upper aerodigestive tract, with a minimum follow-up of 10 years.


A total of 351 (17%) patients developed a second primary, mean time to diagnosis of the second tumor being more than 4 years from the date of the initial tumor. Median overall survival from the date of the first tumor among patients who later developed a second primary was 6 years versus 3 years among all other patients (P < .05). During the first 6 years after treatment of the initial tumor, cancer specific survival was better in the second primary group. After diagnosis of a second primary tumor, median survival was 12 months. A positive correlation was found between second primaries and stage I/II primary disease, low patient age, and initial tumors of the larynx and oral cavity.


The group of patients with the highest risk of a second primary tumor was younger patients with limited initial tumors. A high proportion of patients who later developed a second primary were complete responders after treatment of the first tumor. However, prognosis was poor after the actual diagnosis of the second primary tumor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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