This was a prospective study of 1589 patients that were enrolled in the Scottish Audit of Head and Neck Cancer between 1999 and 2001. It recorded their presenting symptoms and assessed their long-term survival with respect to symptoms and subsites (oral cavity, oropharynx, larynx and hypopharynx).

If patients presented with one symptom, the median survival was 5.3 years, compared to 1.1 years if the patient presented with three symptoms (except in hypopharyngeal cancer in which all patients had an, as expected, poor prognosis).

Patients presenting with hoarseness had a median survival of 5.9 years, dysphagia 1.3 years and weight loss 0.8 years. A number of important results came out of this study that will undoubtedly influence day-to-day practice. 

Presenting symptoms and long-term survival in head and neck cancer.
Douglas CM, Ingarfield K, McMahon AD, et al.
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Serge Latis

Liverpool Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

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