A Southeast Asian collaborative Delphi consensus on surveying risk factors for head and neck cancer screening and prevention.
The objective of this study was to determine high value questions for early detection and prevention of head and neck cancer by querying content experts on patient risk factors relevant to local communities in Southeast Asia (i.e., Vietnam, Laos, China, and Singapore). The Delphi method was employed using three rounds of asynchronous surveying which included participants among five different collaborating medical centers. 60 total survey items were assessed for consensus defined by a priori measures on the relative level of value of these questions for use in head and neck cancer screening. 77% of items reached a consensus and no items were concluded to be of low value despite differences in conclusions regarding relative importance. Survey items focused on patient demographic information and physical examination were examined across variables such as expert department affiliation, academic designation, and years of experience and found to be without statistically significant differences. However, with consensus items related to social risk factors, it was determined that participants who had 15 or more years of experience or identified as otolaryngologists rated these items at a relatively lower value than their peers with less experience (p < 0.0001, p = 0.0017) or outside the field of otolaryngology (p = 0.0101). This study explicitly identifies patient variables to consider in head and neck cancer screening that have not previously been comprehensively or methodically assessed in current literature. Increasing awareness of these risk factors may benefit the design and implementation of future head and neck cancer early detection and prevention programs in Southeast Asia and beyond as well as positively impact head and neck cancer outcomes.