Head and Neck Cancers Coverage from Every Angle
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Trends in Head and Neck Cancer Incidence in Thailand

By: Anna Nowogrodzki
Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Overall, the incidence of head and neck cancers decreased between 1990 and 2014 in both Thailand and the United States, but the incidence of pharyngeal and tongue cancers increased in some populations, according to the results of a new analysis. The study was published in the Journal of Global Oncology by Patravoot Vatanasapt, MD, of Khon Kaen University in Thailand, and colleagues.

“Although head and neck squamous cell carcinoma seems to be decreasing across Thailand and the United States, there is evidence to suggest that the increase in high-risk [human papillomavirus]–associated oropharyngeal cancers previously reported in the United States may also be relevant in Thailand,” wrote the authors.

The study incorporated squamous cell carcinomas of the oral cavity, tongue, pharynx, and larynx diagnosed between 1990 and 2014. They included 9,245 occurrences of head and neck cancer from the Songkhla, Lampang, Chiang Mai, and Khon Kaen cancer registries in Thailand and 91,491 occurrences in the United States. South and Southeast Asia have the highest incidence of head and neck cancer in the world. Studies have linked the regionally common practice of chewing betel quid to increased risk of these cancers.

Overall, head and neck cancers decreased from 1990 to 2014. However, the researchers found an increase in pharyngeal cancers in Khon Kaen, especially in men between the ages of 40 and 59, and in tongue cancer among Thais younger than age 60. They suggest that this may be due to the incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive tumors because of sexual activity. The American Joint Committee on Cancer recommends less aggressive treatment of HPV-positive lesions. The authors advocate more molecular studies to determine whether there are more HPV-positive tumors in Thailand in need of appropriate treatment.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at ascopubs.org.

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