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Comparative Effectiveness and Safety of Radiotherapy Treatments for Head and Neck Cancer

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Classification and Staging of Head and Neck Cancer (Continued)

The staging of head and neck cancer varies slightly by anatomic site, but in general, early stage (stages I and II) disease, which comprises approximately 40 percent of cases, defines a small primary tumor without lymph node involvement. Locally advanced tumors (stages III and IV), which represent approximately 60 percent of cases, includes large primary tumors that may invade adjacent structures and/or spread to regional lymph nodes. Metastatic disease is uncommon at the time a head and neck cancer is diagnosed, with the exception of certain subsites (e.g., nasopharynx and hypopharynx).