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Emergency presentations of head and neck cancer: a modern perspective

  • M Bannister (a1), V Vallamkondu (a1) and K W Ah-See (a1)



Head and neck cancer emergency presentations are uncommon but persistent. However, there is little published literature on this aspect of cancer and patient demographics. This study aimed to assess the incidence, patient profile, tumour site and stage of emergency cancer presentations in our region.


Retrospective review of regional cancer database over a five-year period.


Emergency presentations accounted for 7 per cent of all cases. There was no difference in patient age and risk factors between the emergency and non-emergency presentations. The emergency presentation group showed a greater proportion of female patients compared to the non-emergency presentation group (30 vs 15 per cent). In all emergency presentations, the cancer was at advanced stages. Oropharyngeal cancer was the commonest emergency presentation of cancer, but the third commonest in the non-emergency group.


Emergency presentations are increasing annually. Female patients and oropharyngeal cancer showed greater representation compared to male patients and laryngeal cancer.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Mr Miles Bannister, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Forresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZN, Scotland, UK E-mail:


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Presented at the ENT Scotland Summer Meeting, 7 May 2015, Dunblane, Scotland, UK.



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