Impact of treatment modality on quality of life of head and neck cancer patients: Findings from an academic medical institution

Am J Otolaryngol. Mar-Apr 2017;38(2):168-173. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2016.12.003. Epub 2016 Dec 29.


Purpose: The objective of this pilot study was to determine how different treatment modalities (surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy) impact quality of life (QOL) in a population of head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors.

Methods: Fifty-nine newly diagnosed, biopsy-confirmed HNC patients were recruited between 2007-2012. They completed the EORTC Quality of Life Questionnaire and Head & Neck Module at 5 intervals pre- and post-treatment. Participants were grouped into four categories based on modality: surgery only, surgery/radiation, chemoradiation, or surgery/chemoradiation. Repeated measures ANOVA examined effect of treatment modality on QOL over time.

Results: Xerostomia symptoms were significantly associated with chemoradiation (F(2.47, 59.27)=3.57, p=0.03), lowest at pretreatment and highest 6 months post-treatment. Time was significantly associated with head and neck pain, F(2.95,67.89)=3.39, p=0.02.

Conclusions: HNC survivors exhibit different QOL related symptoms depending on combined treatment modalities, and time post-treatment. It is important to understand QOL differences based upon treatment modalities when developing treatment plans for HNC patients.

Keywords: Head and neck cancer; Oncology; Pain; Quality of life; Treatment modality; Xerostomia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors*