Head and Neck Cancer in Saudi Arabia: a Systematic Review

  • Alhazzazi, Turki Y (King Abdulaziz University, Faculty of Dentistry, Department of Oral Biology) ;
  • Alghamdi, Faisal T (King Abdulaziz University, Faculty of Dentistry, Department of Oral Biology)
  • Published : 2016.08.01


Background: Head and neck cancer (HNC) is the ninth most common cancer worldwide, and has a poor 5-year survival rate averaging 50%, which has not changed for decades. A high prevalence of HNC has been reported in the southwestern region of Saudi Arabia, as compared to other areas of the country. However, data in regards to HNC are scattered and not well documented. Thus, the aim of this systematic review was to gather all available and updated important information regarding HNC in Saudi Arabia, and highlight the gaps of knowledge in our country with regard to this disease. In addition, suggestions of solutions to overcome the current status and improve our future standard of care to fight HNC are also highlighted. Materials and Methods: The electronic databases PubMed and Google Scholar using English-language literature were used for this systematic review, using specific inclusion and exclusion criteria and keywords. The search was performed in April 2016 and updated in June 2016. Results: Our search revealed twenty-one studies that fulfilled our inclusion and exclusion criteria and that were conducted in Saudi Arabia. These studies investigated different aspects of HNC, including prevalence, risk factors, biomarkers, and assessed knowledge and awareness of both public and practitioners with regard to HNC. Conclusions: This review uncovered a big gap in our epidemiological data in cancer information in general, and head and neck cancer in particular. In addition, a lack of knowledge and awareness of both the public and health care practitioners hinders the early diagnosis of disease and negatively impact the prognosis, treatment and outcome. The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia should develop a more systematic way and adapt policies to gather cancer information in general, and head and neck cancer in particular, from all governmental and private sectors from all over the kingdom, and develop educational programs to raise the knowledge and awareness of HNC in the country.


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