Clinical Corner - March 2024

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently released a publicly available calculator for people newly diagnosed with oral cancer. This represents the first cancer survival calculator that provides personalized estimates of the likelihood of surviving or dying from oral cancer or other causes. An analysis evaluating the new calculator revealed that people with oral cancer are more likely to die from other causes compared with their peers without oral cancer, and that noncancer survival worsens with cancer stage.

With its unique design, the calculator represents perhaps one of the most sophisticated and comprehensive tools to date by integrating multiple population-level data sources to account for general health status and disease exposures such as alcohol and tobacco, socioeconomic status, and coexisting conditions. When assessing survival, factors such as cancer stage and tumor size are key, but comorbidities also play a crucial role. For oral cancer, where alcohol and tobacco use are notorious risk factors, comorbidities occur frequently and are often serious.

To create a model that provides more "holistic and personalized" estimates and includes a host of factors that can impact the risk of death, the creators of the calculator tapped into data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database to develop the SEER Oral Cancer Survival Calculator (SEER OCSC). This is yet another example of the use of accurate cancer registry data. More of these calculators and nomograms will be developed in the future for a multitude of cancer sites.