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Background: It is estimated that there are more than 640,000 new cases and 350,000 deaths due to head and neck cancers (HNCA) each year worldwide. Lack of baseline data in Tanzania concerning head and neck malignancies makes it difficult to appreciate the pattern and magnitude of the problem in the country. The objective of this study was to determine the pattern of head and neck cancers among patients attending the Otorhinolaryngology Department at the Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Methods: All inpatients and outpatients with histologically proven malignant lesions in the head and neck region who attended the Otorhinolaryngology department of Muhimbili National Hospital between 1st July 2012 and 31st January 2013 were enrolled in the study. A special designed questionnaire was used for data collection. Clinical examination, computed tomography scan and/or magnetic resonance image were done accordingly, followed by fine needle aspiration cytology and/or tissue biopsy.
Results: A total of 113 patients, 75 (66.3%) males and 38 (33.7.0%) females with a male to female ratio 2:1 were involved in the study. The mean age at the time of diagnosis was 51±18. Patients below age of 40 years accounted for 28.4% of all head and neck cancer patients. The commonest observed anatomical location was nasal and paranasal sinuses (23.9%) followed by the larynx (20%). Carcinoma accounted for 94% of head and neck cancers in which squamous cell carcinoma was the most frequent (74%). Lymphoma (2%) was the least frequent histological variant encountered. Nasal and paranasal sinuses had the most histological variations of all anatomical locations of head and neck cancer.
Conclusion: This study shows a significant number of head and neck cancer patients in a younger generation and a high magnitude of sinonasal cancerrelative to other head and neck cancer.