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Oral Oncol. 2014 Feb;50(2):90-7. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2013.10.016. Epub 2013 Nov 20.

Why are head and neck squamous cell carcinoma diagnosed so late? Influence of health care disparities and socio-economic factors.

Author information

Department of Biostatistics, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, France. Electronic address:
Department of Maxillo-facial Surgery, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, France. Electronic address:
Clinical Research Unit, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, France. Electronic address:
Department of Biostatistics, Clinical Research Unit, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, France. Electronic address:
Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Tenon Hospital/Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, France. Electronic address:



Late stage diagnosis of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) makes the prognosis worse. However, the influence of inequalities of health care and socio-economic factors has never been investigated in this pathology.


To identify any inequalities in health care and socio-economic factors influencing late-stage diagnosis of HSNCC.


The ASED study (Acces aux Soins avant Endoscopie Diagnostique) was a cross-sectional observational, multi-centric (19 centers) study on metropolitan French territory. Data was collected from 1st December 2010 to 30th June 2012.


Patients were included prospectively in Head and Neck Surgery departments. A self-administered form was completed by the patients at the time of ambulatory diagnostic endoscopy (38 items describing demographic, socio-economic and health care access characteristics). A second form was completed by the surgeon at the time of histological confirmation of HNSCC (11 items describing the tumor).


Six hundred and ninety patients aged 18 or more with a first HNSCC were included. Exclusion criteria were second HSNCC or loco-regional recurrence of HNSCC.


Late-stage was defined as T3/T4 tumor, and early-stage was defined as T1/T2 tumor, according to the TNM classification.


Independent factors associated with late-stage diagnosis were: hypopharyngeal location (OR=3.5 [1.8-7.3] versus oral cavity location), age (OR=1.02 [1.00-1.04]), male sex (OR=1.7 [1.1-2.6]) and being born in France (OR=2 [1.2-3.3]). Factors associated with early-stage diagnosis were previous consultation to a specialist physician (OR=0.5 [0.4-0.8]), ease of access to this specialist (OR=0.6 [0.4-0.9]), and having a health professional in close contact (OR=0.6 [0.4-0.8]). Time to consultation was identical in both groups. No significant association was found between socio-economic factors (especially deprivation or alcohol and tobacco consumption) and late-stage diagnosis of HNSCC.


Health care access in France plays a major role in the stage of HNSCC at diagnosis. Easy access to a specialist protects from late-stage diagnosis. Absence of socio-economic factors may be due to the French social security system and its comprehensive coverage of the population.


Head and neck cancer; Health care access; Socio-economic factors; Stage at diagnosis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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