Impact of Delay on Hospitalization in Older Patients With Head and Neck Cancer: A Multicenter Study

Rosanne C Schoonbeek*, Suzanne Festen, Roza Rashid, Boukje A C van Dijk, György B Halmos, Lilly-Ann van der Velden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


OBJECTIVE: To assess the impact of delay in treatment initiation on hospitalization, overall survival, and recurrence in older patients with head and neck cancer (HNC).

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective multicenter study.

SETTING: Two tertiary referral centers.

METHODS: All patients with newly diagnosed HNC (≥60 years) treated between 2015 and 2017 were retrospectively included. Time-to-treatment intervals were assessed (ie, calendar days between first visit and start of treatment). Multiple multivariable models were performed with hospital admission days (>14 days), survival, and recurrence as dependent outcome variables.

RESULTS: In total, 525 patients were enrolled. The mean age was 70.7 years and 70.7% were male. Median time to treatment was 34.0 days, and 36.3% started treatment within 30 days (P = .576 between centers). Patients with radiotherapy had longer time to treatment than surgical patients (39.0 vs 29.0 days, P < .001). Current smoking status, stage IV tumors, and definitive radiotherapy were significantly associated with delay in the multivariable analysis. Time-to-treatment interval ≥30 days was a significant predictor of longer hospital admission (>14 days) in the first year after treatment in an adjusted model (odds ratio, 4.66 [95% CI, 2.59-8.37]; P < .001). Delay in treatment initiation was not associated with overall survival or tumor recurrence.

CONCLUSION: This study highlights the importance and challenges of ensuring timely treatment initiation in older patients with HNC, as treatment delay was an independent predictor of hospitalization. During oncologic workup, taking time to consider patient-centered outcomes (including minimizing time spent in hospital) while ensuring timely start of treatment requires well-structured, fast-track care pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1945998211072828
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number4
Early online date19-Jan-2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Cite this