Fewer Dying in U.S. From Throat, Mouth Cancer, Study Finds

MONDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Death rates for U.S. patients with throat and mouth cancers decreased between 1993 and 2007, a new study shows.

The finding comes from an analysis of National Center for Health Statistics data on white and black men and women, aged 25 to 64, in 26 states.

The researchers also found that the largest decreases in death rates for mouth and throat (pharynx) cancers were among black patients with at least 12 years of education.

The study appears in the November issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

Death rates increased among white men with fewer than 12 years of education, according to Dr. Amy Y. Chen, of Emory University School of Medicine and the American Cancer Society, and colleagues.

Another study in the same issue of the journal found that poor overall quality of life, pain and continued tobacco use seem to be associated with poorer outcomes and a higher death rate two years after diagnosis for patients with head and neck cancer.

The study included 276 patients diagnosed between September 2001 and September 2008. The overall survival rate two years after diagnosis was 90.8 percent.

The likelihood of death within two years of diagnosis was: four times higher for those who reported low quality of life than for those who reported a high quality of life; four times higher for those who continued to use tobacco than for those who had quit or never used tobacco; and two times higher for those who reported pain than for those who said they had no pain.

"In addition to older age and advanced stage, which are known to have a negative effect on survival, the presence of pain and continued tobacco use should flag patients who might need longer and more intense follow-up care to improve their observed and disease-specific survival rates," concluded the researchers at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Iowa City in a journal news release.

"This information is useful for clinicians in the development of management plans for patients who are transitioning from treatment into survivorship," they said.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Nov. 21, 2011