Testing the Timing: Time Factor in Radiation Treatment for Head and Neck Cancers

  • Muhammad M. Fareed
  • Rizwan Ishtiaq
  • Thomas J. Galloway
Head and Neck Cancer (L Licitra, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Head and Neck Cancer

Opinion statement

Overall radiation treatment time has long been recognized as an important factor in head and neck tumor control. The concern of tumor growth in waiting time either before starting radiotherapy or during treatment is substantial given its negative impact on clinical outcome. There is an overwhelming evidence that increasing the time to initiate treatment increases the tumor burden and worsens the prognosis. This effect is more pronounced especially in patients with an early stage cancer disease. Delay in treatment initiation is contributed by both health care- and patient-related factors. Health care-related factors include advancement in diagnostic modalities and transfer of patient to academic health care centers accompanied by delayed referrals and long-awaited appointments. Patient-related factors include delayed reporting time and socioeconomic factors. An efficient transition of care along with access of cancer care modalities to community health care centers will not only improve the quality of care in secondary health care centers but also help decrease the patient burden in tertiary centers. A quick and well-structured multidisciplinary appointment program is fundamental in shortening the time required for patient referrals, thus increasing the optimal survival time for Head and Neck cancer patients with early initiation of treatment.


Head and neck cancers Time to treatment initiation Treatment package time Radiation treatment time Radiation therapy 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Muhammad M. Fareed
    • 1
  • Rizwan Ishtiaq
    • 2
  • Thomas J. Galloway
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Radiation OncologyDana-Farber/Brigham & Women’s Cancer Center, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Radiation OncologyFox Chase Cancer CenterPhiladelphiaUSA

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