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January 21, 2016 / drjamesfreije

Delayed Treatment Shortens Survival for Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Fox Chase Center pic

Fox Chase Center
Image: oxchase.org

Board-certified otolaryngologist Dr. James Freije is an associate with Mount Nittany Physician Group and a cancer liaison representative for Mount Nittany Medical Center’s Cancer Committee. Over the course of his 20-year career, Dr. James Freije has done extensive work in the area of head and neck cancers and written and presented on the subject numerous times.

A recent study done by researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center has revealed that delays in treatment can significantly worsen the prognosis for patients with head and neck cancer. The researchers used a national cancer database and looked at more than 51,000 patients who were diagnosed with head and neck cancers between 1998 and 2011. They found that starting treatment within 46 days of being diagnosed resulted in the best survival rates. After that point, survival declined from over 72 months to 61 months when treatment was between 53 and 67 days and to just under 47 months for treatment after 67 days.

Although concern about treatment delays has long been an issue in the medical field, head and neck cancer patients are at a particularly high risk due to the rapid progression of such tumors. However, it is a complicated problem because getting referrals and second opinions naturally takes time. Further, head and neck cancer patients often have more consultations, including with dentists and speech pathologists, than patients with some others types of cancer.

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