The number of new patients in the Netherlands each year diagnosed with head and neck cancer is about 21 00.1 This number will increase in the coming years because of progessive aging of the population and the particularly high birthrate post second world war, producing a cohort of children who are now at risk for developing head and neck cancer. Moreover, patients are currently 'in medical hands' for a longer time than before because of the introduction of treatment techniques for more advanced tumors and better palliative care. In 1995 the estimated number of patients alive with carcinoma of the most common sites of head and neck cancer was 9125.2 Traditionally, the medical treatment of head and neck tumors has been directed at irradicating the disease and aiming for a longer survival of the patient. Therefore, the main focus has been on clinical data such as localization, type and staging of the tumor and the effect of treatment, demonstrated by loco-regional control and survival. As Bailar and Gornick stated recently, the effect on mortality of new treatments, in the period 1970 through 1994, has been disappointing for most cancer sites.3 Also, the survival rate for head and neck cancer in 1994 was found largely unchanged since 1973. In the Netherlands, the 5-year overall relative survival for oral cavity cancer improved from 52 to 58%, for oropharynx cancer decreased from 38 to 30% and remained unchanged (70%) in laryngeal cancer.2 For the patients both quantity and quality of life are important. Today head and neck cancer patients and their healthcare providers are confronted with the effects of more aggressive treatment modalities introduced since the 70's. Fundamental life functions, like breathing, eating and speaking, and the bodily appearance of the patient, are often largely affected by tumor and treatment, often with severe consequences for daily life and social interaction.

, ,
The Dutch Cancer Society (NKBIKWF), Entermed B.V., MEDIPROF
C.D.A. Verwoerd , H.W. van den Borne
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

de Boer, M. (1998, September 16). Physical and Psychosocial Correlates of Rehabilitation, Survival and Relapse in Head and Neck Cancer Patients. Retrieved from