BackgroundHead-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is one of the most common malignancies globally, and the number of elderly patients diagnosed with HNSCC is increasing. However, as elderly HNSCC patients are underrepresented in clinical trials, current clinical decision making for this cohort largely lacks clinical evidence.MethodsElderly patients (≥65 years) with HNSCC undergoing (chemo)radiotherapy from 2010 to 2018 at Freiburg University Medical Center were assessed for patterns of care, locoregional control (LRC), progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) regarding definitive and adjuvant treatments. Acute and late therapy-associated toxicities were quantified according to CTCAE v5.0.ResultsTwo hundred forty-six patients were included in this analysis, of whom 166 received definitive and 80 adjuvant treatment. Two-year rates for OS, PFS and LRC were 56.9, 44.9 and 75.5%, respectively. Survival differed significantly between age groups with an OS of 40 and 22 months and a PFS of 23 and 12 months for patients aged 65–74 or ≥ 75 years, respectively (p < 0.05). Concomitant chemotherapy resulted in improved OS in patients aged 65–74 years compared to radiotherapy alone (p < 0.05) for definitive treatments, while patients ≥75 years did not benefit (p = 0.904). For adjuvant chemoradiotherapy, a trend towards superior OS rates was observed for patients aged 65–74 years (p = 0.151). Low performance status (HR = 2.584, 95% CI 1.561–4.274; p < 0.001) and smoking (HR = 1.960, 95% CI 1.109–3.464, p < 0.05) were the strongest independent prognostic factor in the multivariate analysis for decreased OS. One hundred thirty-eight patients (56.1%) experienced acute grade 3/4 and 45 patients (19.9%) chronic grade 3 toxicities.ConclusionRadiotherapy is a feasible treatment modality for elderly HNSCC patients. The relatively low OS compared to high LRC may reflect age and comorbidities. Concomitant chemotherapy should be critically discussed in elderly HNSCC patients.