A new guideline from the American Cancer Society (ACS) provides recommendations on follow-up care for survivors of head and neck cancer. This is the fourth of a series of cancer survivorship care guidelines, and is published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.1

The estimated 436 060 survivors of head and neck cancers account for 3% of all cancer survivors living in the United States. Long-term survival is increasingly common in this patient population; therefore, clinicians need resources for providing timely and appropriate support and referral.

“The guideline was developed in response to the need for guidance on how best to care for the growing number of head and neck cancer survivors who potentially face both acute and chronic disability,” write the authors.2

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Recommendations provide guidance on surveillance for disease recurrence; screening for and early detection of second primary cancers; assessment and management of potential long-term and late effects of head and neck cancer and its treatment; and health promotion strategies for nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco cessation. The guideline also addresses key components of long-term survivorship care coordination such as survivorship care plans, communication with other members of the health care team, and inclusion of caregivers.

The guideline is the work of a multidisciplinary expert workgroup convened by the National Cancer Survivorship Resource Center, a collaboration between the ACS, The George Washington University Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Members of the workgroup represent expertise in primary care, dentistry, surgical oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, clinical psychology, speech language pathology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and nursing. In addition, a survivor of head and neck cancer was included in the group to provide a patient perspective.

Other ACS survivorship guidelines address the long-term care needs of survivors of prostate, colorectal, and breast cancers, as well as nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors.


1. American Cancer Society. New guideline addresses long-term needs of head and neck cancer survivors [news release]. EurekAlert! Web site. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/acs-nga031716.php. Published March 22, 2016. Accessed March 30, 2015.

2. Cohen EW, LaMonte SJ, Erb NL, et al. American Cancer Society head and neck cancer survivorship care guideline [published online ahead of print March 22, 2016]. CA Cancer J Clin. doi:10.3322/caac.21343.