Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 19, Issue 10, pp 1511–1518

The relationship between weight loss and health-related quality of life in persons treated for head and neck cancer

  • Barbara A. Head
  • Luke Heitz
  • Cynthia Keeney
  • John Myers
  • Savitri N. Appana
  • Jamie L. Studts
  • Jeffrey Bumpous
  • Mark Pfeifer
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00520-010-0975-x

Cite this article as:
Head, B.A., Heitz, L., Keeney, C. et al. Support Care Cancer (2011) 19: 1511. doi:10.1007/s00520-010-0975-x

Abstract

Purpose

This study explores the relationship between weight loss, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and symptom burden in patients treated for head and neck cancers.

Methods

Participants completed the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy—Head and Neck (FACT-H&N) and the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale (MSAS) pre-treatment, mid-treatment, and post-treatment. Weights were recorded prior to treatment and at the post-treatment follow-up visit, and percentage weight loss was tabulated. Relationships between weight loss, HRQOL, and symptom burden were evaluated using the nonparametric Spearman rho. A simple linear regression model was developed to examine the influence weight loss has on HRQOL in a predictive manner.

Results

Average weight loss per patient was 12 lb with a modal value of 19. Weight loss was found to be significantly correlated with decreases in physical well-being, functional well-being, the Head and Neck specific subscale, and composite QOL scores. No significant correlations were found between weight loss and symptom burden as measured by the MSAS. Linear regression suggested that a 10% decrease in baseline weight resulted in a 19% decrease in the FACT-H&N score.

Conclusion

The strong association between weight loss and HRQOL supports the importance of efforts to prevent weight loss via patient education, aggressive monitoring, and immediate intervention to stop or reverse weight loss during treatment. New approaches to the weight loss and wasting experienced by patients should be developed and tested.

Keywords

Weight lossQuality of lifeHead and neck cancerSymptom burdenNutrition

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara A. Head
    • 1
  • Luke Heitz
    • 1
  • Cynthia Keeney
    • 1
  • John Myers
    • 2
  • Savitri N. Appana
    • 2
  • Jamie L. Studts
    • 3
  • Jeffrey Bumpous
    • 1
    • 4
  • Mark Pfeifer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Louisville School of MedicineLouisvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Bioinformatics and BiostatisticsUniversity of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Behavioral ScienceUniversity of Kentucky College of MedicineLexingtonUSA
  4. 4.Louisville Veterans Affairs Medical CenterLouisvilleUSA