Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology

, Volume 142, Issue 6, pp 1343–1351 | Cite as

Incidence and risk factors for morbidity and mortality in elderly head and neck cancer patients undergoing major oncological surgery

  • Shin Hyuk Yoo
  • Jong-Lyel RohEmail author
  • Seung-Ho Choi
  • Soon Yuhl Nam
  • Sang Yoon Kim
Original Article – Clinical Oncology



Cancer incidence in the elderly population has been continuously rising, and their treatment is an increasing concern among oncologists. This study aimed to evaluate the incidence and risk factors for morbidity and mortality after major oncological surgery in elderly patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).


The 196 HNSCC patients aged 55 and older who underwent major curative surgery. Patients were categorized into three groups: far-old (≥75 years; n = 41); old (65–74 years; n = 72); or middle-aged (55–64 years; n = 83). The rates of early and late postoperative complications, hospital stays, and mortality were compared among groups. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to identify the factors associated with early postoperative complications.


No study patients had mortality during surgery or within 3-month postoperation. Karnofsky performance status, frail functional status, comorbidity, and index cancer and noncancer mortality were the poorest in the far-old group. The far-old group demonstrated significantly higher rates of early overall complications, readmission within 1 month, and recurrence rates (P < 0.05 each). Multivariate analysis showed that age, postoperative hemoglobin, and C-reactive protein are independent predictors of early postoperative complications (P < 0.05 each).


In elderly patients, chronological age affects the increased risk of early postoperative morbidity and later mortality following major HNSCC surgery. In combination with these risk factors, older patients who are diagnosed with HNSCC should be carefully monitored in order to determine the potential occurrence of postsurgical complications.


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma Elderly population Early complications Morbidity Mortality 



This study was supported by a Grant (No. 2015R1A2A1A15054540) from Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning, and a Grant (No. HI15C2920) from the Korean Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), Ministry of Health & Welfare, Seoul, Republic of Korea (J.L. Roh).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research board and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shin Hyuk Yoo
    • 1
  • Jong-Lyel Roh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Seung-Ho Choi
    • 1
  • Soon Yuhl Nam
    • 1
  • Sang Yoon Kim
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Otolaryngology, Asan Medical CenterUniversity of Ulsan College of MedicineSeoulRepublic of Korea

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