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Pediatric head and neck malignancies

Chadha, Neil K; Forte, Vito

Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery: December 2009 - Volume 17 - Issue 6 - p 471–476
doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e3283323893
Pediatric otolaryngology: Edited by Lisa Buckmiller

Purpose of review Although head and neck masses represent a common entity in children, malignancy is uncommon. The otolaryngologist may be the first physician to see these children, and early recognition of malignancy is of obvious importance. This review aims to discuss the cause, diagnosis, investigation, treatment options, and prognosis for the most common head and neck malignancies of childhood.

Recent findings Over recent years, significant developments have been made in characterizing the epidemiologic, phenotypic, and genotypic variability of childhood head and neck cancers. Improved awareness of tumor biology is reflected by more sophisticated diagnostics, estimates of prognosis, and an increasing individualization of treatment regimens.

Summary The latest evidence for the diagnosis and management of childhood head and neck malignancy is summarized. The rarity of these tumors inevitably results in a paucity of high-level evidence to guide treatment. A combination of translational research from tumor biology studies, multicenter clinical trials, and smaller case series and case reports will continue to guide new advances in diagnosis and treatment.

Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence to Dr Vito Forte, MD, FRCSC, Chief, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, The Hospital for Sick Children, 555 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1X8, Canada Tel: +1 416 813 4938; fax: +1 416 813 5036; e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.