, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 481-488

Radiation related morbidities and their impact on quality of life in head and neck cancer patients receiving radical radiotherapy

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Abstract

Although 50–70% of head and neck cancer patients in India receive radiotherapy (RT), radiation-related acute and late morbidities and their impact on quality of life (QOL) are infrequently reported. Acute and late radiation morbidities and QOL were assessed in a prospective longitudinal study of 45 patients with head and neck cancers receiving radical RT to a dose of 7000 cGy in conventional fractionation. Grade II acute morbidities experienced by the largest percent of the sample during the course of RT pertained to the mucosa (66.4%), salivary gland (84%), and oesophagus (53%). These morbidities led to an increase in the symptom scores of appetite loss (76.46), fatigue (65.75) and pain (44.77). This increase in the symptom scores consequently led to a significant decline in physical, social and emotional functioning as well as global health status score during the course of RT (p < 0.001). Scores improved after 1 month of RT but did not reach the pre-RT value. Future studies may consider correlating QOL assessment to significant patient and disease related parameters such as performance status, weight loss, stage and site of disease.