Nora Šiupšinskienė, Ligita Švagždytė, Laimis Dubosas, Saulius Vaitkus, Artūras Razbadauskas


The aim of the study was to evaluate physical problems in patients previously treated for head and neck cancer and to compare them according to the post-treatment period. A total of 62 patients (mean age 61.6±10.2 years) diagnosed with primary head and neck cancer, treated by different methods (87.1% underwent surgical or combined treatment) were included to the study. The majority of investigated patients – 69.4% were treated for laryngeal carcinoma. According to the post-treatment period, patients were classified into two groups: short-term (N=31) – were treated till 6 months before and long-term (N=31) – were treated at least 6 months before. Patients groups were similar with regard to age, gender, site, stadium and method of treatment. Physical problems were assessed using standardized quality of life questionnaires EORTC QLQ-C30 and EORTC QLQ- H&N35. The majority of patients (64.5%) self-rated their general state of health as satisfactory or worse. The main physical problem of such patients was speech difficulties (79.2%). Patients also experienced problems in senses – smell (58.1%) and taste (53.2%), in physical functioning (59.7%) and in role functioning (40.3%). Furthermore patients experienced intermediate fatigue, insomnia, painkillers consumption, sticky saliva, problems in teeth and weight control. Patients of long-term post-treatment period group had significantly worse problems than patients of short-term post-treatment period group: functioning role for patients of late period was significantly decreased, dyspnea – increased, they had more severe sensory and speech problems and icreased financial difficulties (p<0.05). We could conclude that patients previously treated for head and neck cancer experienced some non-specific and specific physical problems. The majority of patients self-rated their genereal state of health as satisfactory or worse. The main physical problems of such patients are speech and physical functioning difficulties. Significantly more physical problems were found in long-term post-treatment period group than in short-term post-treatment group.

Keyword(s): head and neck cancer; treatment; quality of life; physical problems.
DOI: 10.5200/sm-hs.2015.122
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