ARTICLE ABSTRACTHead and neck cancer (HNC) mortality differs by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status (SES). However, it is unclear whether the relationship between race/ethnicity and HNC-specific mortality varies according to the residence-level SES.
Data from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results database included participants with primary HNC between 2006 and 2017 (followed through 2018) to assess the joint association of race/ethnicity and census-tract level SES Yost-index groups (quintiles) with all-cause and HNC-specific mortalities. Relative survival rates at 1, 5, and 10 years were calculated. Multivariable Cox proportional hazard regression models estimated hazard-ratios and 95% confidence intervals for all-cause mortality, and Fine-Gray subdistribution hazard models for HNC-specific mortality. Cumulative incidence curves for HNC-specific deaths were estimated.
76,095 patients were included in the analysis: 63.2% were <65 years, 73.4% male, and 11.3% non-Hispanic (NH) Black. Most patients (58.3%) were diagnosed at regional or distant stages and 20.6% died of HNC. The five-year relative survival rate increased with SES group, with 51.6% in the lowest SES group, and 74.1% in the highest SES group. NH-Black patients had higher risk of all-cause and HNC-specific mortality than NH-White patients, regardless of the SES group. NH-Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic patients had higher risk of HNC-specific mortality in some SES groups.
NH-Black patients of all SES strata had significantly worse outcomes. Other factors, such as healthcare quality, may be associated with persistent disparities.
The study highlights the persistence of significant racial disparities in HNC survival across socioeconomic categories. There is need to consider additional factors underlying these disparities.