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PhD ceremony Mr. T.T.A. Peters: Head and neck cancer in elderly patients

When:We 19-02-2014 at 12:45
Where:Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

PhD ceremony: Mr. T.T.A. Peters

Dissertation: Head and neck cancer in elderly patients

Promotor(s): prof. B.F.A.M. van der Laan

Faculty: Medical Sciences

Head and neck cancer is the 6th most common type of solid cancer. Several types of treatment are available including surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The number of new cases of head and neck cancer has stabilised, but with an increasing elderly population, the number of elderly patients with head and neck cancer is growing.

In current practise, elderly patients with head and neck cancer are often treated different from younger ones, only because of their older age. This practice is debated in literature. The aim of this thesis is to study differences between younger and elderly patients, with an emphasize on complications after treatment. The results may guide the choice of treatment of elderly patients with head and neck cancer.

Our findings show no significant differences in complications after treatment between younger and elderly patients. However, complications are harder to predict in elderly patients. Patients with chronic diseases additional to the head and neck cancer, more often develop complications after treatment that relate to their pre-existent illnesses. Complications related to head and neck cancer surgery are harder to predict. In conclusion, the choice of treatment remains difficult in elderly head and neck cancer patients, but we found no reasons found to treat elderly patients differently than younger ones. This thesis provides insights to better predict treatment outcomes, and directions for future research.

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