Every physician is familiar with the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) and Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) cancer staging systems. These are based on an anatomical description of a patient’s tumor burden in the well-known categories: T(umor), N(ode), and M(etastasis). The radiological implications for head and neck tumors are presented in a recent paper in Radiology: Imaging Cancer (2020). To quote that article, ‘The many changes made to the head and neck (H&N) chapters of the 8th edition of the AJCC (and UICC) staging manuals have initially resulted in confusion from clinicians and radiologists. These changes reflect the current understanding of pathophysiology of H&N cancers and are necessary to create a more accurate and individualized prognosis for these patients’ . One of the most striking changes is the separate staging of human papilloma virus (HPV) associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) from tobacco and alcohol use-associated SCC. In the presentation, four selected topics are discussed, illustrated by multiple examples from daily practice.
The author has no competing interests to declare.
Glastonbury CM. Critical changes in the staging of head and neck cancer. Radiology: Imaging Cancer. 2020; 2(1): e190022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1148/rycan.2019190022