INTRODUCTION: Treatment of elderly patients is in many ways different from that for younger ones. The aim of the present study was to identify the particular characteristics and needs of elderly patients suffering from head and neck cancer. From these patterns, considerations for this special group can be deduced. Patients and Material The subjects for this study consisted of 376 patients suffering from head and neck cancer that were treated between 1999 and 2008, 99 (26.3.%) of whom were older than 70 years and were evaluated retrospectively concerning smoking/alcohol abuse, ASA status, kind of malignant neoplasm, localization and treatment. RESULTS: The male-female ratio was 53:46, and mean age, 79 years (71 - 98). Out of 95 patients with a squamous cell carcinoma, 4 patients had a verrucous form. Out of 99 patients, 26 had a maxillary carcinoma and 12 patients had experienced previous non-head-and-neck cancer. An ASA score of 2 or 3 was found in 86 of the patients. CONCLUSION: The group of patients with head and neck cancer who were older than 70 years was characterized by a higher portion of female patients, a higher number of maxillary carcinomas, and a higher prevalence of previous second cancer. Making decisions in cancer therapy for elderly patients is challenging. Patients suffering from operable head and neck cancer should be treated with curative intent and with regard to quality of life if a careful assessment of comorbidities is performed preoperatively.