OBJECTIVES: We aimed to assess patterns of care delivered to older patients with locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (LA-HNSCC), and to analyze the use of geriatric assessment (GA) and assessment of quality of life (QoL).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Members of the head and neck cancer group and the older task force of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), members the European Head and Neck Society and members of national groups in Europe were asked to complete a questionnaire about treatment delivered, use of GA, and QoL assessment in older patients with LA-HNSCC.
RESULTS: Investigators from 111 centers replied, including 90 (81.1%) academic centers, 16 (14.4%) community hospitals, and 5 (4.5%) private clinics. Large differences in treatment patterns were found. For instance, for oropharyngeal carcinoma, one third of the centers indicated that they treat <5% of older patients with chemoradiation, while 18 centers (16.2%) treat >40% of older patients with chemoradiation. Fourteen centers (12.6%) routinely perform GA, while 43 centers (38.7%) never do, and 39 centers (35.1%) sometimes do. QoL is assessed on a routine basis in one fifth of the centers.
CONCLUSIONS: Large differences exist across institutions in the patterns of care delivered to older patients with LA-HNSCC. Prospective studies are required to learn how GA can guide treatment decisions, and how QoL and treatment outcome can be improved. For that, consensus on standard of care is essential.