Background: Quality of life levels fluctuate depending on treatment type and at various points throughout treatment. In patients with advanced head and neck cancer, quality of life is thought to be treatment dependent. The purpose of this study is to compare levels of patients self-reported quality of life across treatment.
Patients and methods: Preliminary data presented here are based on 24 patients enrolled so far in an experimental organ-preservation protocol. The two treatment groups consist of one group treated with chemotherapy (paclitaxel and carboplatin) followed by radiation therapy and the second group which is treated with chemotherapy (paclitaxel and carboplatin) followed by surgery and postoperative radiation. Data is collected pretreatment and at uniform points throughout the course of treatment.
Results: Preliminary results suggest that quality of life is significantly higher in the nonsurgical group than in the surgical group at the last treatment point reported. Social distress/avoidance is also lower in the nonsurgical group. Because of the small number of patients represented in this study, results should be interpreted with caution and should be viewed as descriptive at this juncture.
Conclusion: Quality of life seems to be preserved in patients who experience less invasive and disfiguring treatment, and who also have compromised eating and communication abilities. Data collection in this study is ongoing.