Background: Head and neck cancer is a public health problem. Worldwide, more than 630,000 people are diagnosed each year. Aim: To review the published literature with different search pages and secondary sources through different keywords and free terms. Results: The mortality standardized rate by age was 7.9 per 100,000 for men and 2.2 per 100,000 for women. The incidence of head and neck cancer, adjusted for age, was 14.3 new cases per 100,000 in men and 4.4 new cases per 100,000 in women. In general terms, the survival of the stage I is 80% or more and in more advanced stages (III - IV) it reaches 40%. The main risk factors reported in the literature are cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. Also, in the latest publications it is shown, that the role played by the human papillomavirus is becoming increasingly important. Conclusion: this review shows the international literature in relation to head and neck cancer, however, limited at Latin America and even lower at Chile. Specially in Chile, the literature is only about oral and pharyngeal cancer or oral cancer alone, which does not show the real representativeness of this pathology.
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