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The 100 most cited manuscripts in head and neck cancer: a bibliometric analysis

  • T S M Chu (a1), H T Kwok (a2), J Chan (a3) and F Y F Tse (a4)



This study aimed to highlight the key studies that have led to the current understanding and treatment of head and neck cancer.


The Thomson Reuters Web of Science database was used to identify relevant manuscripts. The results were ranked according to the number of citations. The 100 most cited papers were analysed.


A total of 63 538 eligible papers were returned. The median number of citations was 626. The most cited paper compared radiotherapy with and without cetuximab (3205 citations). The New England Journal of Medicine had the most citations (23 514), and the USA had the greatest number of publications (n = 66). The most common topics of publication were the treatment (n = 45) and basic science (n = 19) of head and neck cancer, followed by the role of human papillomavirus (n = 16).


This analysis highlighted key articles that influenced head and neck cancer research and treatment. It serves as a guide as to what makes a ‘citable’ paper in this field.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Mr Timothy Shun Man Chu, School of Medical Education, Newcastle University, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK E-mail:


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Mr T S M Chu takes responsibility for the integrity of the content of the paper



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1Jemal, A, Bray, F, Center, MM, Ferlay, J, Ward, E, Forman, D. Global cancer statistics. CA Cancer J Clin 2011;61:6990
2Argiris, A, Eng, C. Epidemiology, staging, and screening of head and neck cancer. Cancer Treat Res 2003;114:1560
3Chaturvedi, AK, Engels, EA, Pfeiffer, RM, Hernandez, BY, Xiao, W, Kim, E et al. Human papillomavirus and rising oropharyngeal cancer incidence in the United States. J Clin Oncol 2011;29:4294–301
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7Ellul, T, Bullock, N, Abdelrahman, T, Powell, AG, Witherspoon, J, Lewis, WG. The 100 most cited manuscripts in emergency abdominal surgery: a bibliometric analysis. Int J Surg 2017;37:2935
8Joyce, CW, Kelly, JC, Sugrue, C. A bibliometric analysis of the 100 most influential papers in burns. Burns 2014;40:30–7
9Chan, J, Mak, TLA, Chu, TSM, Hui, TLY, Kwan, LYA. The 100 most cited manuscripts in coronary artery bypass grafting. J Card Surg 2019;34:782–7
10Bonner, JA, Harari, PM, Giralt, J, Azarnia, N, Shin, DM, Cohen, RB et al. Radiotherapy plus cetuximab for squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck. N Engl J Med 2006;354:567–78
11Ragin, CC, Taioli, E. Survival of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck in relation to human papillomavirus infection: review and meta-analysis. Int J Cancer 2007;121:1813–20
12Ang, KK, Harris, J, Wheeler, R, Weber, R, Rosenthal, DI, Nguyen-Tan, PF et al. Human papillomavirus and survival of patients with oropharyngeal cancer. N Engl J Med 2010;363:2435
13Gillison, ML, Koch, WM, Capone, RB, Spafford, M, Westra, WH, Wu, L et al. Evidence for a causal association between human papillomavirus and a subset of head and neck cancers. J Natl Cancer Inst 2000;92:709–20
14Henle, W, Henle, G, Ho, HC, Burtin, P, Cachin, Y, Clifford, P et al. Antibodies to Epstein-Barr virus in nasopharyngeal carcinoma, other head and neck neoplasms, and control groups. J Natl Cancer Inst 1970;44:225–31
15Ferris, RL, Blumenschein, G Jr, Fayette, J, Guigay, J, Colevas, AD, Licitra, L et al. Nivolumab for recurrent squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck. N Engl J Med 2016;375:1856–67
16Bonner, JA, Harari, PM, Giralt, J, Cohen, RB, Jones, CU, Sur, RK et al. Radiotherapy plus cetuximab for locoregionally advanced head and neck cancer: 5-year survival data from a phase 3 randomised trial, and relation between cetuximab-induced rash and survival. Lancet Oncol 2010;11:21–8
17Vermorken, JB, Mesia, R, Rivera, F, Remenar, E, Kawecki, A, Rottey, S et al. Platinum-based chemotherapy plus cetuximab in head and neck cancer. N Engl J Med 2008;359:1116–27
18Vermorken, JB, Trigo, J, Hitt, R, Koralewski, P, Diaz-Rubio, E, Rolland, F et al. Open-label, uncontrolled, multicenter phase II study to evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of cetuximab as a single agent in patients with recurrent and/or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck who failed to respond to platinum-based therapy. J Clin Oncol 2007;25:2171–7
19Brizel, DM, Albers, ME, Fisher, SR, Scher, RL, Richtsmeier, WJ, Hars, V et al. Hyperfractionated irradiation with or without concurrent chemotherapy for locally advanced head and neck cancer. N Engl J Med 1998;338:1798–804
20Calais, G, Alfonsi, M, Bardet, E, Sire, C, Germain, T, Bergerot, P et al. Randomized trial of radiation therapy versus concomitant chemotherapy and radiation therapy for advanced-stage oropharynx carcinoma. J Natl Cancer Inst 1999;91:2081–6
21Wendt, TG, Grabenbauer, GG, Rodel, CM, Thiel, HJ, Aydin, H, Rohloff, R et al. Simultaneous radiochemotherapy versus radiotherapy alone in advanced head and neck cancer: a randomized multicenter study. J Clin Oncol 1998;16:1318–24
22Califano, J, van der Riet, P, Westra, W, Nawroz, H, Clayman, G, Piantadosi, S et al. Genetic progression model for head and neck cancer: implications for field cancerization. Cancer Res 1996;56:2488–92
23Nawroz, H, Koch, W, Anker, P, Stroun, M, Sidransky, D. Microsatellite alterations in serum DNA of head and neck cancer patients. Nat Med 1996;2:1035–7
24Schipper, JH, Frixen, UH, Behrens, J, Unger, A, Jahnke, K, Birchmeier, W. E-cadherin expression in squamous cell carcinomas of head and neck: inverse correlation with tumor dedifferentiation and lymph node metastasis. Cancer Res 1991;51:6328–37
25Cohen, EE, Rosen, F, Stadler, WM, Recant, W, Stenson, K, Huo, D et al. Phase II trial of ZD1839 in recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. J Clin Oncol 2003;21:1980–7
26Soulieres, D, Senzer, NN, Vokes, EE, Hidalgo, M, Agarwala, SS, Siu, LL. Multicenter phase II study of erlotinib, an oral epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, in patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell cancer of the head and neck. J Clin Oncol 2004;22:7785
27Herrero, R, Castellsague, X, Pawlita, M, Lissowska, J, Kee, F, Balaram, P et al. Human papillomavirus and oral cancer: the International Agency for Research on Cancer multicenter study. J Natl Cancer Inst 2003;95:1772–83
28Mork, J, Lie, AK, Glattre, E, Hallmans, G, Jellum, E, Koskela, P et al. Human papillomavirus infection as a risk factor for squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck. N Engl J Med 2001;344:1125–31
29Fakhry, C, Westra, WH, Li, S, Cmelak, A, Ridge, JA, Pinto, H et al. Improved survival of patients with human papillomavirus-positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in a prospective clinical trial. J Natl Cancer Inst 2008;100:261–9
30Seiwert, TY, Burtness, B, Mehra, R, Weiss, J, Berger, R, Eder, JP et al. Safety and clinical activity of pembrolizumab for treatment of recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (KEYNOTE-012): an open-label, multicentre, phase 1b trial. Lancet Oncol 2016;17:956–65
31Chaturvedi, AK, Anderson, WF, Lortet-Tieulent, J, Curado, MP, Ferlay, J, Franceschi, S et al. Worldwide trends in incidence rates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers. J Clin Oncol 2013;31:4550–9
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The 100 most cited manuscripts in head and neck cancer: a bibliometric analysis

  • T S M Chu (a1), H T Kwok (a2), J Chan (a3) and F Y F Tse (a4)


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