Head and Neck Cancer Survivorship Care: A Review of the Current Guidelines and Remaining Unmet Needs

  • Nhu-Tram A. Nguyen
  • Jolie RingashEmail author
Head and Neck Cancer (L Licitra, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Head and Neck Cancer

Opinion statement

A larger proportion of patients with head and neck cancers (HNC) are now surviving, constituting up to 3% of all cancer survivors. This is likely due in part to the increase in HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers affecting younger individuals and with a better prognosis and to the improved outcomes of other HNCs as well over the last two decades. Most studies have previously been focusing on improving risk stratification, treatment and disease-related outcomes. Over the last decade, there has been an evolving interest in the field of survivorship care. Despite the collaborative efforts from a multidisciplinary team in managing cancer and treatment-related side-effects and in improving survivors’ overall quality of life (QOL), it has been reported that up to 60–65% of patients have at least one unmet need. The purpose of this article is to review current guidelines for HNC survivorship care and identify areas of unmet need. Over the last 5 years, multiple groups have published guidelines describing survivorship care issues and their possible management. Although a very comprehensive and informative first initiative, multiple issues need to be further evaluated. These include how to best support patients and their partners’ fear of cancer recurrence, to provide coordinated care among all physicians, to identify and meet patients’ needs in local multidisciplinary teams and to institute measures to ensure every individual’s access to high-quality patient-centred care. Furthermore, experts may consider engaging in further dialog with primary care physicians (PCP) to improve sharing of survivorship care. More should be learned about PCPs’ comfort levels in providing such care and whether further steps are required to facilitate a seamless. Transition of care and accessibility to specialized care as needed.


Head-neck neoplasms Squamous cell carcinoma Cancer survivorship care Guidelines Systematic review 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


This material has never been published and is not under evaluation in other peer-reviewed publication.

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Radiation OncologyThe Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and The University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.The Princess Margaret Cancer CentreTorontoCanada

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