Outcomes of the National Head and Neck Cancer Awareness and Screening Campaign in Oman
The prognosis of head and neck cancer (HNC) depends substantially on disease stage at the time of diagnosis. Unfortunately, the majority of HNC patients present at relatively late stages. In Oman, a national screening campaign was conducted to increase public awareness of HNC and encourage early detection. This study aimed to report the outcomes of that campaign. Head and neck cancer (hnc) is the sixth most common cancer globally and includes cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (i.e. the oral cavity, oropharynx, nasopharynx and larynx), the nasal and paranasal sinuses and the salivary glands.1,2 Worldwide, there are 550,000 new HNC cases diagnosed per year.1 In Muscat, the capital city of Oman, the incidence of HNC was 4.3 cases per 100,000 individuals in 2014.3 Overall, the prognosis of HNC depends upon the time of onset and the type and staging of the disease at presentation. The average fiveyear survival rate is 80% for early HNC; however, this decreases to 30% if regional or distant metastasis is present.4,5 It was observed by the authors that patients with HNC, particularly those with cancers of the oral cavity, usually presented at an advanced stage. Generally, the management of advanced stage HNC is complex, costly and results in poor outcomes, with many resources wasted on molecular studies that are non-reproducible and not applicable to the majority of patients.6 Underlying factors exacerbating the late presentation of cases include a lack of awareness regarding the signs, symptoms and risk factors for HNC within the general community as well as inadequate preventative and early detection measures on the part of healthcare providers.7 In contrast, screening programmes are comparatively cheaper and have been shown to play a key role in ensuring the early detection of affected patients worldwide.