Results of a survey on elderly head and neck cancer patients on behalf of the Italian Association of Radiotherapy and Clinical Oncology (AIRO)

Liliana Belgioia, Francesca De Felice, Almalina Bacigalupo, Daniela Alterio, Angela Argenone, Elisa D'Angelo, Isacco Desideri, Pier Francesco Franco, Anna Merlotti, Daniela Musio, Ester Orlandi, Stefano Ursino, Fabiola Paiar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Over the years, evidence-based data and technical improvements have consolidated the central role of radiation therapy (RT) in head and neck cancer (HNC) treatment, even in the elderly. This survey aimed to describe the management of the elderly HNC patients among Italian Radiation Oncology Departments (RODs) and provide possible suggestions for improvement.

Methods: An online survey based on 43 questions was sent to RODs via email. For each RODs, a radiation oncologist with expertise in HNC was invited to answer questions addressing his/her demographic data, ROD multidisciplinary unit (MU) organisation and ROD management policy in elderly HNC patients.

Results: In total, 68 RODs answered, representing centres located in 16 Italian regions. MU was considered the core of HNC patient management in almost all the entire country. However, in many RODs, there was minimal access to a routinely comprehensive geriatric assessment at diagnosis. Most treatments were reported by respondents as curative (89% on average) and the preferred treatment technique was intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). A considerable variation between RODs was found for RT target volumes. There was a relation between the specialist's years of experience and type of concomitant systemic therapy prescribed.

Conclusions: Substantial differences in elderly HNC management have been found, especially concerning patient clinical evaluation and target volume delineation. This survey shows the necessity to design a prospective national trial to provide a uniform treatment strategy and define an effective patient-centred approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-409
Number of pages5
JournalActa otorhinolaryngologica Italica : organo ufficiale della Societa italiana di otorinolaringologia e chirurgia cervico-facciale
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


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