Simultaneously presenting head and neck and lung cancer: A diagnostic and treatment dilemma

M. A. Kuriakose, T. R. Loree, A. Rubenfeld, T. M. Anderson, R. V. Datta, H. Hill, N. R. Rigual, J. Orner, A. Singh, W. L. Hicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis: Synchronous tumors are defined as malignancies presenting within 6 months of the index tumors. A significant subset of patients present at initial evaluation with malignant tumors of both the head and neck (head and neck squamous cell carcinoma) and the lung, which are termed simultaneous primaries. The management and treatment outcomes in this cohort of patients have not been clearly defined and are the subject of the present review. Study Design: Retrospective chart review of previously untreated patients. Methods: From January 1974 to December 1997, a total of 2964 patients were treated for mucosal squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Forty-two patients fulfilled the criteria for synchronous head and neck and lung malignancy. Of these, 27 patients had simultaneous tumors of the head and neck and the lung. This cohort of patients (n = 27) was stratified into three treatment groups. Patients in group A (n = 10) had resectable head and neck and lung primaries treated with curative intent. Group B (n = 8) was composed of patients who could have been treated with curative intent but declined and were given only palliative therapy. Patients in group C (n = 9) were candidates for only palliative treatment. Results: The estimated 5-year disease-specific survival in group A was 47%, whereas patients in group B had a 5-year disease-specific survival of only 13% (P = .05). There were no survivors beyond 1 year in group C. The presence of mediastinal adenopathy in patients in group A portended poor clinical outcome. There was an estimated 5-year disease-specific survival of 51% in patients with no preoperative evidence of mediastinal adenopathy (n = 7), whereas 67% of patients with radiological evidence of mediastinal adenopathy died (two of three patients). Conclusion: The presence of simultaneous head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and pulmonary malignancies should not be a deterrent to aggressive surgical therapy because a potentially satisfactory outcome can be expected in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-123
Number of pages4
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002


  • Head and neck tumors
  • Lung tumors
  • Simultaneous tumors
  • Synchronous tumor
  • Treatment


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