Head and neck cancer survival rate variations revealed

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The four year crude survival rate for head and neck cancers varies by over 30% depending on the type of cancer, an audit has found.

Patients with cancer of the Larynx have a four year crude survival rate of over 60%, while those with cancer of the hypopharynx, where the larynx and oesophagus meet, had a four year crude survival rate of 33%.

The audit also found that a positive test for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) was recorded in 79% of the 52% of patients given a test for the virus.

The audit used data from all head and neck cancer teams in England and Wales, who cared for 8429 patients between 1 November 2013 and 31 October 2014.

The figures were published in the National Head and Neck Cancer Audit tenth Annual Report 2014, which is managed by the Health and Social care Information Centre, published in September 2015.

The figures also highlighted the variation depending on when a diagnosis was made, while three quarters of those with larynx cancer survived four years if it was diagnosed at an early stage, of those who were diagnosed at a later stage less than half survived.

Head and neck cancer includes cancers of the larynx, oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, nasopharynx, major salivary gland, nose and sinuses, and cancer of the bones of the jaw.

Waiting times for radiotherapy have improved from 42 days to 41 within the reporting period although this varied with one in four patients waiting 54 days or more from diagnosis to start treatment.

Richard Wight, lead clinician for the Audit, said: "Since the Audit began ten years ago the findings have led to us now having one of the largest databases of over 54,000 head and neck cancer cases.

"The Audit has enabled monitoring of NHS standards of care down to trust level and helped support service reorganisation and appropriate commissioning.

"Referral to radiotherapy services is still highlighted as a problem with one in four patients waiting over a month and a half from diagnosis to start their treatment.

Dr Fran Woodard, director for policy and research at Macmillan Cancer Support said: "Head and neck cancers are a particularly varied group of cancers, with some being more difficult to diagnose and treat than others.

"This could contribute to the variation in peoples' chance of survival.

Woodward added: "Today's findings show the significant numbers of people who are still living with these cancers, including 18,100 people living with cancer of the voice box and 1,700 people with cancer of the hypopharynx."

Further reading:

People in UK living longer lives with more ill health in later years

Canada Life CI add on to new individual life products a 'welcome addition' - CIExpert

'Wrong to assume' older patients more likely to refuse cancer treatment - Macmillan

 

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