Gender and race disparities in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HSNCC) survival are independently well documented, but no prior studies have examined the joint effect of these factors on HSNCC outcomes. We aim to comprehensively estimate the effect of gender and race on overall survival in HNSCC. We constructed a retrospective cohort from the National Cancer Database for primary HNSCC of the larynx, hypopharynx, oral cavity, and oropharynx from 2010 to 2015. We used Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox proportional hazards regressions to calculate hazard ratios adjusting for treatment type, age, insurance, staging classifications, and comorbidities. Oral cavity cancer was significantly more common among Hispanic and White females compared to other sites. Female non-oropharyngeal HNSCC cases had better five-year overall survival than males (56.3% versus 54.4%, respectively), though Black females (52.8%) had poorer survival than both White (56.2%) and Hispanic (57.9%) males. There were significant differences in oropharyngeal cancer by HPV status. Notably, Black females with HPV-positive oropharyngeal OPSCC had far worse survival than any other race and gender group. These results persisted even when adjusting for potential mediating factors. Clearly gender is a significant prognosticator for HNSCC and has meaningful interactions with race. The distinct site distributions across gender and race reveal important insights into HNSCC among females. Taking into account these gender disparities while considering race is essential to providing appropriate care to head and neck patients and accurately counselling these individuals on prognosis and outcomes.
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