Increasing mean age of head and neck cancer patients at a german tertiary referral center

Julius M. Vahl, Marlene C. Wigand, Michael Denkinger, Dhayana Dallmeier, Chiara Steiger, Claudia Welke, Peter Kuhn, Christian Idel, Johannes Doescher, Adrian von Witzleben, Matthias Brand, Ralf Marienfeld, Peter Möller, Marie Nicole Theodoraki, Jens Greve, Patrick J. Schuler, Cornelia Brunner, Thomas K. Hoffmann, Simon Laban*

*Corresponding author for this work
3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The impact of demographic change on the age at diagnosis in German head and neck cancer (HNC) patients is unclear. Here we present an evaluation of aging trends in HNC at a tertiary referral center. Methods: Retrospective cohort study on aging trends at the initial diagnosis of newly diagnosed patients with HNC between 2004 and 2018 at the head and neck cancer center Ulm in relation to demographic data of the catchment area. Results: The study population consisted of 2450 individuals diagnosed with HNC with a mean age of 62.84 (±11.67) years. We observed a significant increase in annual incidence rates and mean age over time. Mean age among HNC patients increased significantly more than among the population in the catchment area. Whereas the incidence rate of patients <50 years did not change, the incidence of HNC patients aged ≥70 years increased the most. The mean patient age in the main tumor sites increased significantly. Surprisingly, HPV-positive patients were not younger than HPV-negative patients, but showed a non-significant trend towards a higher mean age (63.0 vs. 60.7 years). Conclusions: Increasing incidence rates in older patients pose a challenge for health care systems. A nationwide study is needed to assess the dynamics and impact of aging on the incidence of HNC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number832
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 17.02.2021


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