ASCO endorses ACS guideline on head and neck cancer survivorship care


The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has deemed the American Cancer Society (ASC) 2016 guideline on head and neck cancer “clear, thorough, clinically practical, and helpful.”


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As reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (published online February 27, 2017; doi:10.1200/JCO.2016.71.8478), ASCO has endorsed the ACS guideline on head and neck cancer survivorship care. The guideline provides recommendations for surveillance of head and neck cancer recurrence, including history and physical and surveillance education; screening and early detection of second primary cancers; assessment and management of physical and psychosocial long-term and late effects of treatment; health promotional information; and care coordination and practice implications, including survivorship plans, communication with other providers, and inclusion of caregivers.

ASCO determined that despite the limited availability of high-quality evidence to support many of the recommendations, the guideline is thorough and clinically practical. The ASCO panel responsible for reviewing the guideline added qualifying statements aimed at promoting team-based, multispecialty, multidisciplinary, collaborative head and neck survivorship care. The following elements of care were emphasized:

  • Appropriate care for head and neck cancer survivors requires a team-based approach that includes primary care clinicians, oncology specialists, otolaryngologists, dentists, and other allied professionals.
  • The treatment team should educate primary care clinicians and patients regarding the types of treatment received, the likelihood of recurrence, and potential late and long-term complications.
  • Primary care clinicians should recognize symptoms of recurrence and coordinate a prompt evaluation; they should also be prepared to manage late effects either directly or by referral to appropriate specialists.
  • Health promotion is critical, particularly regarding tobacco cessation and dental care.

Additional information regarding the survivorship guideline endorsement and qualifying statements are available on ASCO’s website. – Zachary Bessette