Management of Older Adults with Locally Advanced Head and Neck Cancer

Daniel R. Dickstein, Eric J. Lehrer, Kristin Hsieh, Alexandra Hotca, Brianna M. Jones, Ann Powers, Sonam Sharma, Jerry Liu, Vishal Gupta, Loren Mell, Zain Husain, Diana Kirke, Krzysztof Misiukiewicz, Marshall Posner, Eric Genden, Richard L. Bakst

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Thirty percent of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) are at least 70 years of age. This number continues to rise as life expectancy continues to increase. Still, older adults with HNSCC remain underrepresented in clinical trials, resulting in ambiguity on optimal management. Older adults are a complex patient population, often requiring increased support due to issues relating to functional and performance status, medical comorbidities, and medication management. Furthermore, in older adults with HNSCC, many of these conditions are independently associated with increased toxicity and worse outcomes. Toxicity in the older adult remains difficult to predict and to understand, and as treatment decisions are based on treatment tolerability, it is essential to understand the toxicities and how to minimize them. Novel predictive scores are being developed specifically for older adults with HNSCC to understand toxicity and to assist in personalized treatment decisions. There are clinical trials presently underway that are investigating shortened radiation courses and novel, less toxic systemic treatments in this population. In the forthcoming sections, we provide a detailed overview of the clinical data, treatment paradigms, and considerations in this population. This review provides a comprehensive overview of existing clinical data and clinical considerations in the older adult head and neck cancer population. Additionally, we provide a detailed overview of pertinent current and ongoing clinical trials, as well as future areas for investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2809
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • chemotherapy
  • comorbidities
  • elderly
  • geriatric
  • head and neck cancer
  • older adult
  • radiation oncology
  • squamous cell carcinoma


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