, Volume 6, Issue 3, p 0

Performance and quality of life outcome in patients completing concomitant chemoradiotherapy protocols for head and neck cancer

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This study evaluated post-treatment performance and quality of life (QOL) outcome in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients treated with organ preservat ion, intens ive chemoradiotherapy (FHX). Participants were 47 Stage II-IV HNC patients with no evidence of disease at least one year post-completion of organ preservation, concomitant FHX treatment. Patients were assessed via a semi-structured in-person interview, standardized measures of QOL (FACT-H, CES-D), performance (PSS-HN) and patients' perception of residual side effects. Disease, treatment and toxicity data were retrieved from medical charts and protocol records. The most salient performance impairment was inability to eat a normal solid food diet, with 50% of patients able to eat soft foods or take liquids only. This specific functional deficit was not related to global QOL, nor to specific quality of life dimensions. Dry mouth, the most frequent and severe residual effect, was not associated with outcome diet, depression or QOL. Residual pain, seen in only 15% of patients, appeared to influence both functional and QOL parameters as well as being a marker for other troublesome symptoms. Twenty-three per cent of patients were depressed; depression was associated with past problems related to alcohol abuse. Decreased QOL and increased depressive symptomatology were related to total number and severity of residual effects. The data highlight the importance of systematic study of QOL dimensions and caution against making assumptions about patients' experience of particular disease and treatment sequelae.