ASCO Endorses ACS Head and Neck Cancer Survivorship Care Guideline

As reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology by Larissa Nekhlyudov, MD, MPH, of Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and colleagues, ASCO has endorsed the 2016 American Cancer Society (ACS) guideline on head and neck cancer survivorship care. The endorsement was based on review by an ASCO expert panel, co-chaired by Dr. Nekhlyudov and Lillian L. Siu, MD, of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

The guideline provides recommendations on surveillance for 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 head and neck cancer and its treatment; health promotion information; and care coordination and practice implications, including survivorship plans, communication with other providers, and inclusion of caregivers.

The ASCO panel determined that the ACS guideline is “clear, thorough, clinically practical, and helpful, despite the limited availability of high-quality evidence to support many recommendations.” The ASCO panel added qualifying statements aimed at promoting team-based, multispecialty, multidisciplinary, collaborative care.

In brief, the ASCO panel emphasized the following elements of care:

  • 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.

The endorsed guideline and additional information are available at and

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.




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