Late and Long-Term Treatment-Related Effects and Survivorship for Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2020 Oct 3;21(12):92. doi: 10.1007/s11864-020-00797-x.


The demographics of head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors are changing, contributing to a growing number of survivors and a greater length of survivorship. Curative treatment involves intense multimodal therapy, which contributes to both short-term toxicities and long-term treatment-related effects. Delivering high-quality, relevant cancer survivorship care is a growing national priority. Various survivorship models and tools, such as survivorship care plans, have been utilized in an attempt to enhance care and optimize outcomes. However, an essential, yet understudied, component of high-quality survivorship care is the identification and management of late and long-term treatment-related effects. In this article, we will describe the current advancements in survivorship care as well as the research related to late and long-term treatment effects. While there is a growing body of literature that describes the prevalence of treatment-related effects and their impact on quality of life, more work is needed. Research that investigates the interplay of these complex treatment effects, the biological mechanisms that contribute to their variability, and interventions designed to mitigate them are desperately needed. While de-intensification offers the potential to alleviate these effects for future survivors, we need clinically meaningful assessment tools and therapies to provide the survivors we evaluate and treat daily. Targeted patient-reported outcomes and objective measures validated through clinical research are needed to help us systematically identify and treat late and long-term effects. In order to tailor and optimize the care we provide to our HNC survivors, we will need to leverage these tools as well as the expertise of all members of our multidisciplinary survivorship teams.

Keywords: Head and neck cancer; Survivorship; Toxicities; Treatment effects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cancer Survivors
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Quality of Life
  • Survivorship