National evaluation of multidisciplinary quality metrics for head and neck cancer

John D. Cramer*, Sedona E. Speedy, Robert L. Ferris, Alfred W. Rademaker, Urjeet A. Patel, Sandeep Samant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The National Quality Forum has endorsed quality-improvement measures for multiple cancer types that are being developed into actionable tools to improve cancer care. No nationally endorsed quality metrics currently exist for head and neck cancer. METHODS: The authors identified patients with surgically treated, invasive, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in the National Cancer Data Base from 2004 to 2014 and compared the rate of adherence to 5 different quality metrics and whether compliance with these quality metrics impacted overall survival. The metrics examined included negative surgical margins, neck dissection lymph node (LN) yield ≥ 18, appropriate adjuvant radiation, appropriate adjuvant chemoradiation, adjuvant therapy within 6 weeks, as well as overall quality. RESULTS: In total, 76,853 eligible patients were identified. There was substantial variability in patient-level adherence, which was 80% for negative surgical margins, 73.1% for neck dissection LN yield, 69% for adjuvant radiation, 42.6% for adjuvant chemoradiation, and 44.5% for adjuvant therapy within 6 weeks. Risk-adjusted Cox proportional-hazard models indicated that all metrics were associated with a reduced risk of death: negative margins (hazard ratio [HR] 0.73; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.71-0.76), LN yield ≥ 18 (HR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.89-0.96), adjuvant radiation (HR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.64-0.70), adjuvant chemoradiation (HR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.79-0.88), and adjuvant therapy ≤6 weeks (HR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.89-0.96). Patients who received high-quality care had a 19% reduced adjusted hazard of mortality (HR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.79-0.83). CONCLUSIONS: Five head and neck cancer quality metrics were identified that have substantial variability in adherence and meaningfully impact overall survival. These metrics are appropriate candidates for national adoption. Cancer 2017;123:4372-81.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4372-4381
Number of pages10
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 15 2017


  • National Cancer Database
  • head and neck cancer
  • head and neck neoplasms
  • quality
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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