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Treatment priorities and regret in older adults with head and neck cancer: A systematic review

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Joanne Patterson, David Hamilton



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023 The Authors. Clinical Otolaryngology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Background: The majority of head and neck cancer (HNC) diagnoses are seen in people aged 70 and older; these numbers are set to increase. Greater understanding of treatment needs of older patients with HNC is essential. These older patients often have co-existing health conditions, are prone to frailty and may not prioritise survival when considering treatment options. This systematic review examines the current research with regard to priorities and factors influencing treatment regret in older people with HNC. Methods: Studies were eligible for inclusion if they (i) reported data from patients with a mean age of 65 years or older who had a confirmed diagnosis of HNC and had been treated using surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy with either palliative or curative intent, (ii) considered patient's priorities or preferences or examined treatment regret as one of the primary outcomes of the study (iii) were published in English. Results: Pilot search identified n = 7222 articles; however, following screening, only four papers met the inclusion criteria. Narrative synthesis was indicated to analyse quantitative and qualitative evidence in parallel, as meta-analyses were not possible. Discussion: There is a paucity in the literature examining older adults with HNC. There is an indication that older adults prioritise maintaining independence when making treatment decisions and treatment regret is seen in those with high levels of depression with level of frailty also a contributing factor. Clinicians should consider patient's social circumstances, premorbid status and priorities in maintaining independence and managing symptoms when making treatment decisions in this cohort.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Fahy E, Cantwell LA, Patterson JM, Cherry MG, Rogers S, Akpan A, Hamilton DW

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinical Otolaryngology

Year: 2023

Volume: 48

Issue: 6

Pages: 809-819

Print publication date: 01/11/2023

Online publication date: 05/09/2023

Acceptance date: 26/07/2023

ISSN (print): 1749-4478

ISSN (electronic): 1749-4486

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc


DOI: 10.1111/coa.14094

PubMed id: 37669764