Quality of Life Impacts Following Surgery for Advanced Head and Neck Cancer

Cameron Douglas, Lyndel Hewitt, Takako Eva Yabe, Jenny Mitchell, Bruce Ashford


Background: Understanding the impact of surgery on patients will enable clinicians to provide evidence-based perioperative management. This study aimed to investigate the quality of life (QoL) impacts following head and neck surgery for advanced stage head and neck cancer.

Methods: Head and neck cancer survivors were invited to complete five validated questionnaires to investigate QoL. Associations between QoL and patient variables were analyzed. Variables included age, time since operation, length of surgery, length of stay, Comorbidity Index, estimated 10-year survival, sex, flap type, treatment and cancer type. Outcome measures were also compared to normative outcomes.

Results: The majority of participants (N = 27; 55% male; mean (standard deviation) age: 62.6 (13.8) years; mean time since operation: 801 days) had a squamous cell carcinoma (88.9%) and free flap repair (100%). Time since operation was significantly (P < 0.05) associated with higher rates of depression (r = -0.533), psychological needs (r = -0.0415) and physical/daily living needs (r = -0.527). Length of surgery and length of stay were significantly associated with depression (r = 0.442; r = 0.435) and length of stay was significantly associated with speaking difficulties (r = -0.456). There was a significant association between work and education scores with age (r = 0.471), length of surgery (r = 0.424), Comorbidity Index (r = 0.456) and estimated 10-year survival (r = -0.523).

Conclusions: Age, time since operation, length of surgery, length of stay, Comorbidity Index and estimated 10-year survival were the outcomes associated with QoL. Patient-reported outcome measures and psychological support could be included in the standard care pathway for head and neck cancer patients to ensure holistic management of their condition.

World J Oncol. 2023;14(2):150-157
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/wjon1541


Cancer; Surgery; Quality of life; Head and neck

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