Trismus, xerostomia and nutrition status in nasopharyngeal carcinoma survivors treated with radiation

Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2016 May;25(3):440-8. doi: 10.1111/ecc.12270. Epub 2014 Dec 11.


The aims of the study were to: (1) examine levels of trismus, xerostomia and nutritional status; (2) compare levels of trismus, xerostomia and nutritional status in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) receiving different types of radiation modalities; and (3) identify factors related to NPC survivors' risk status for malnutrition and existing malnutrition. A cross-sectional study with consecutive sampling was conducted. NPC survivors were recruited from otolaryngology/oncology outpatient clinics in a medical centre in Northern Taiwan. Study measures included (1) Mandibular Function Impairment Questionnaire, (2) Xerostomia Questionnaire, (3) Mini Nutrition Assessment, (4) Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale - Depression subscale, and (5) Symptom Severity Scale. A total of 110 subjects were recruited. Those receiving intensity-modulated radiation therapy had less trismus and xerostomia than patients receiving two-dimensional radiation therapy. Patients with female gender, advanced stage, completion of treatments within 1 year, higher levels of depression, more severe trismus and higher symptom severity tended to have malnutrition or were at risk of malnutrition. Trismus and xerostomia are long-term problems in some NPC survivors and may contribute to malnutrition. To better manage a patient's trismus and xerostomia and to enhance nutritional status, clinicians should develop a patient-specific care programme based on careful assessment and targeted measures to improve oral function and insure adequate nutritional intake.

Keywords: complication; nasopharyngeal carcinoma; nutrition; trismus; xerostomia.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Nutritional Status / radiation effects*
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / adverse effects
  • Trismus / etiology*
  • Xerostomia / etiology*