OBJECTIVE: To assess the influence of sex and primary tumor location on the outcome of mouth cancer in elderly patients. METHODS: A retrospective study of 1,440 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of mouth in the Head and Neck Department of Heliópolis Hospital, São Paulo during 1978-1997 period. There were 562 elderly patients (aged 60 or more years, according to WHO criteria for developing countries) and 878 patients younger than 60 years old. The variables sex, location of the tumor and life time after detection were compared between the two groups of patients. The chi squared test (x²) was used for statistical analysis with a 0.05 significance level (confidence interval of 95%). RESULTS: The frequency of the mouth cancer in elderly patients remained stable in the studied period (39,5% in 1978-87 versus 38.2% in 1988-1997). The male/female ratio in squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity changed from 3:1 before 60 years old to 8:1 after this age. There was a predominance in buccal mucosa (56%) and palate (47%) in aged people when compared with the tumors of younger patients preferentially in floor/tongue (67%) and tongue (62%). No differences were found in the percentage of deceased patients before the beginning of therapeutic procedures (11.6% versus 10.5% in younger) or in the percentages of survivors, in different periods (6 months the five years). CONCLUSIONS: A higher frequency of women with mouth cancer was observed in the elderly patients. The upper floor of the mouth site was more frequent in the patients aged 60 years or more while the inferior location (tongue and floor) were more frequent in patients under 60. The observed differences in relation to patient´s sex and tumor location did not influence outcome in mouth cancer patients.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma; Age; Location; Gender