Incidence of Distant Metastasis in Head and Neck Cancer: A Hospital based Study
Keywords:Head and neck cancer, distant metastasis, incidence, staging, primary tumor
Aims and Objectives: To study the incidence of distant metastasis to bone and soft tissues from head and
neck cancers and to assess the primary site of head and neck cancer, its clinical staging and its correlation
with the site of distant metastasis.
Materials and Methods: Medical records of patients admitted for management of head and neck cancers
in Medical and Radiation Oncology for a period of 6 years, were assessed for primary site of the tumour,
staging, histopathological diagnosis and the site of distant metastasis.
Results: Out of 125 patient records evaluated, the incidence of distant metastasis was 15.2%. Majority of
the patients (60%) presented at Stage III and IV of the disease. Thyroid and tongue malignancies showed the
highest incidence of distant metastasis and this incidence was most common in the 5th and 6th decades of life.
The most common sites of distant metastasis were to the bones (31.6%) and lungs (15.8%).
Conclusion: Cancers of the head and neck is typically loco-regional in nature, with metastasis to cervical
nodes. Distant metastasis, though uncommon, may adversely impact the survival and quality of life of the
patient. Understanding the risk factors and incidence for metastatic head and neck cancers may be useful in
treatment planning and follow-up protocols for newly diagnosed patients.
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