The role of age in treatment decisions for oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma: Analysis of the National Cancer Database

Thomas F. Barrett, Angela L. Mazul, Katelyn O. Stepan, C. Burton Wood, Randall C. Paniello, Jose P. Zevallos, Sean Massa, Ryan S. Jackson, Nicole C. Schmitt, Joseph Zenga, Stephen Y. Kang, Patrik Pipkorn, Jason T. Rich, Sidharth V. Puram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The number of elderly patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC) is increasing as the elderly population increases. Unfortunately, evidence to guide the management of these patients is lacking. Methods: Patients with OCSCC identified from the National Cancer Database (NCDB) were stratified into age-based cohorts. Demographics, comorbidities, and treatment patterns were analyzed. Patients were stratified into early stage (Stage I/II) and advanced stage (Stage III/IV) disease. The likelihood of receiving multimodality therapy by age was calculated using multinomial logistic regression for each stratum while controlling for potential confounders. Cox proportional hazard regression was used to calculate 5-year mortality risk while controlling for potential confounders. Results: Surgery alone or palliative options were offered to older patients more frequently. After controlling for confounders, older patients were less likely to receive multimodality therapy for both early stage and advanced stage disease. Patients with advanced disease across all age cohorts had improved 5-year survival with surgery and adjuvant therapy. Conclusion: Our analyses suggest that elderly patients have unique demographic and pathologic features. They frequently receive less treatment than similarly staged younger patients, yet they benefit from multimodality therapy when feasible. These data suggest an urgent need to critically appraise the care of elderly OCSCC patients within the broader context of their individual comorbidity burden, functional status, and treatment goals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105330
JournalOral Oncology
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Age-dependent care
  • Elderly care
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Oral cavity cancer
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Treatment decision making


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