Rate of Second Primary Head and Neck Cancer With Cannabis Use Academic Article uri icon

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  • Objective To determine whether there is an association between cannabis use and developing a second primary cancer in head and neck cancer patients, as well as determining the prevalence of cannabis use amongst head and neck cancer patients. Study design This retrospective cohort study investigated patients from the Hamilton Region Head and Neck Cancer Database who were enrolled prospectively between 2011 and 2015, with follow-up data up to November 2018. Patients were contacted to confirm current cannabis and tobacco smoking status. Setting All patients were enrolled from a single tertiary cancer center in Hamilton, Ontario. Subjects and methods Consecutive patients with a newly diagnosed head and neck cancer were prospectively enrolled between 2011 to 2015. Cannabis users and controls were compared using standard modes of comparison. The odds ratio from a multivariable logistic regression model was then determined. Results A total of 513 patients were included in this study: 59 in the cannabis group and 454 in the control group. In terms of baseline characteristics, there was no significant difference between cannabis users and controls except that cannabis users were more likely to develop primary oropharyngeal cancer (p=0.0046). Two of 59 (3.4%) cannabis users developed a second primary cancer, in comparison to 23 of 454 (5.1%) non-cannabis users. The odds ratio for cannabis use on the second primary cancer was 0.19 (95% CI [0.01-3.20], p=0.25). Conclusion This study suggests that cannabis use behaves differently than tobacco smoking, as the former may not be associated with field cancerization.


  • Kim, Jeehyun
  • Hua, Gordon
  • Zhang, Han
  • Chan, Teffran J
  • Xie, Michael
  • Levin, Marc
  • Farrokhyar, Forough
  • Archibald, Stuart D
  • Jackson, Bernard
  • Young, James E
  • Gupta, Michael K

publication date

  • November 14, 2020

published in