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Published online: 2024-01-29

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Assessment of quality of life in patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer who received concurrent chemoradiotherapy

Hatem Abd Allah1, Marwa Zaied2, Doaa Soliman1

Abstract

Introduction. Head and neck cancer is defined as any malignancy arising in the skin, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, oral cavity, salivary glands, pharynx, and larynx. Quality of life (QoL) is known as the patient’s perception of his/her general well-being. It is a multidimensional concept that includes psychological, social occupational, functional, and physical well-being. The term health-related QoL (HR-QoL) is preferred over QoL as it only focuses on the health status and disease-related issues, such as symptoms and functions. 

Material and methods. This was a prospective study aiming to assess and measure the healthrelated quality of life (HR-QoL) in patients with locally advanced head and neck cancer (HNC) using a specific questionnaire for this group of cancer patients. EORTC QLQ-H & N35 module was developed specifically for HNC patients and contains 35 questions divided into 7 subscales about pain, swallowing, senses, speech, social eating, social contact, and sexuality. There are 10 single items relating to problems with teeth, dry mouth, cough, opening the mouth, sticky saliva, weight loss, weight gain, use of nutritional supplementation, feeding tubes, and painkillers. Higher scores in this module represent a higher level of problems. 

Results. Study results show an overall decrease in HR-QoL at the completion of concurrent chemoradiotherapy with significant improvement at 3-month follow-up regarding pain, use of painkillers, difficulty in swallowing, teeth problems, cough, sexual interest, and social eating, but there was still a worsening regarding dry mouth, social contact, speech difficulties, and taste problems. There was no change in use of nutritional supplementation, and hence no significant weight changes. 

Conclusions. Locally advanced head and neck cancer patients who were receiving concurrent chemoradiotherapy have shown degrees of impairment in HR-QoL as measured by the extensively used worldwide questionnaire of EORTC QLQ-H & N35 module. 

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