Functional outcomes and quality of life after chemoradiotherapy: baseline and 3 and 6 months post-treatment

Dysphagia. 2014 Jun;29(3):365-75. doi: 10.1007/s00455-014-9519-8. Epub 2014 Mar 8.


Concomitant chemoradiotherapy provides organ preservation for those patients with head and neck cancer. We report the results of a prospective study that examined functional outcomes and quality of life (QOL) after chemoradiotherapy over the first 6 months post-treatment (tx). Twenty-nine patients with head and neck cancer were treated with chemoradiotherapy. All were seen baseline and 3 and 6 months post-tx. Assessments included the performance status scale (PSS), Karnofsky performance status scale, tongue strength, jaw opening, and saliva weight. QOL was patient-rated using the eating assessment tool (EAT-10), MD Anderson dysphagia inventory, speech handicap index (SHI), and the EORTC H&N35 scale. Repeated-measures ANOVAs were used, with significance at p < 0.05. PSS scores were significantly different across time points. Tongue strength, jaw range of motion (ROM), and saliva weight were significantly lower at 3 and 6 months than at baseline. QOL was significantly worse after tx, although it improved by 6 months as rated with the EAT-10 and the SHI scores were significantly worse at 3 and 6 months. EORTC domains of swallowing, senses, speech, dry mouth, and sticky saliva were significantly worse at 3 and 6 months. Concomitant chemoradiotherapy for treatment of head and neck tumors can result in impaired performance outcomes and QOL over the first 6 months post-tx. However, performance status, tongue strength, jaw ROM, and eating QOL were only mildly impaired by 6 months post-tx. Saliva production and speech QOL remained significantly impaired at 6 months post-treatment. Current studies are examining outcomes at 12 and 24 months post-treatment to better predict outcomes over time in this population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chemoradiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Karnofsky Performance Status
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Saliva / physiology
  • Speech / physiology
  • Temporomandibular Joint / physiopathology
  • Time Factors
  • Tongue / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome