Head and neck cancer is among the leading causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide, with squamous cell carcinomas accounting for the majority of head and neck cancers.
Recurrent/metastatic (R/M) HNSCC is a morbid and fatal disease. Overall survival for head and neck cancer across all stages is approximately 50%. The 5-year overall survival is around 15%-35% for patients with stage III and IV head and neck cancer, including those with metastatic disease. Despite recent advances in treatment, including the incorporation of immunotherapy, prognosis remains poor, especially in patients with R/M disease.6-8
Prognosis varies based on numerous factors including location and type of HNSCC as well as biomarkers, disease stage at diagnosis and other risk factors.4,9 In general, prognosis is poor with the median survival ranging around 6 to 15 months depending on patient- and disease-related factors.4,9 The American Cancer Society predicts about 10,850 deaths in the US from oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer — the most common types of HNSCC — in 2021. Additionally, patients with metastatic oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer have a 5-year survival rate of less than 40%.4
Understanding the unique biomarkers and genetic drivers behind your patient’s cancer is critical to gathering prognosis information and helping to determine the optimal treatment path and/or clinical trials for consideration.10,11
Biomarkers associated with HNSCC can include12-15: