Stage-Wise Presentation of Non-Metastatic Head and Neck Cancer: an Analysis of Patients from the Kumaon Hills of India


Background: Head and neck cancer without distant metastases is amenable to various modalities of treatment. However, the stage at presentation is a very important determinant for treatment success. The present study was conducted to determine the stage-wise presentation of non-metastatic head and neck cancer patients from the hilly regions in Kumaon division of Uttarakhand, India. Materials and
Methods: The hospital records for non-metastatic head and neck cancer patients from the only functional cancer centre of the region for the period of two-years (January 2012- December 2013) were included. Nasopharyngeal carcinoma was excluded due to its staging system being different. Non-squamous histopathologies were also excluded. Patients hailing from nearby regions of Uttar Pradesh and Nepal were excluded, as were patients from non-hilly regions of Kumaon.
Results: Of the 271 patients of head and neck cancer, 27 with distant metastases at diagnosis were excluded from the analysis. Of the 244 eligible patient records, 90.1% (n=222) were male, and 9.9% (n=22) were female. The proportions of patients with carcinoma of the larynx, oropharynx, oral cavity, hypopharynx and maxillary antrum were 31.9% (n=78), 27.9% (n=68), 20.5% (n=50), 12.7% (n=31) and 1.2% (n=3). A further 5.7% (n=14) were diagnosed as having secondary involvement of neck nodes with unknown primaries. The proportion of patients presenting in stages I, II, III, IVA and IVB were 0.8% (n=2), 2.5% (n=6), 9.4% (n=23), 51.6% (n=126) and 35.7% (n=87) respectively.
Conclusions: An abysmally low proportion (3.3%) of non-metastatic head andneck cancer patients presented in the early stages (I and II). A vast majority of the patients (88.1%) presented with stages IVA and IVB. Not only does this reflect a poor therapeutic outlook, but also exposes the dire need for programmes focusing on cancer awareness and early detection in the region.