The American Cancer Society (ACS) issued new clinical guidelines for the long-term care of survivors of head and neck cancer (HNC).1 The guidelines were developed by a multidisciplinary group that included experts in primary care, dentistry, oncology, psychology, nursing, and the patient perspective.

The authors noted that an estimated 61 760 new cases of HNC will be diagnosed in the United States in 2016, where there are already about 436 000 survivors of HNC who make up 3% of cancer survivors. They also noted that long-term survival is increasing among this population.

“There have never been systematically defined guidelines for head and neck cancer survivorship prior to this effort,” said Ezra Cohen, MD, of the Moores Cancer Center, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA, in an interview with Cancer Therapy Advisor. “The reality is that there are nearly half a million survivors of HNC in the United States and many more around the world. These patients suffer among the highest rates of long-term sequelae from their disease and its treatment, which have a dramatic impact on quality of life.”

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“Many of these effects can be managed well with appropriate prevention and care,” he said. “We felt that health care providers would benefit from an instrument that would help manage these patients.”

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The authors performed a review of literature from 2004 through April 2015, and ultimately included 184 peer-reviewed articles to develop the guidelines. They focused on 5 main areas: surveillance for HNC recurrence, screening for second primary cancers, assessment and management of physical and psychosocial long-term and late effects of HNC and treatment, health promotion, care coordination, and practice implications.