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Quality of life during early radiotherapy in patients with head and neck cancer and pain

Authors Schaller A, Dragioti E, Liedberg GM, Larsson B

Received 28 March 2017

Accepted for publication 20 June 2017

Published 17 July 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 1697—1704


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr E Alfonso Romero-Sandoval

Anne Schaller,1 Elena Dragioti,1 Gunilla M Liedberg,2 Britt Larsson1

1Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Community Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Pain and Rehabilitation Centre, County Council of Östergötland, Linköping, 2Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Linköping University, Norrköping, Sweden

Background: Patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) have a potentially severe diagnosis and often suffer from tumor-related pain as well as from adverse side effects of treatment such as radiotherapy (RT). Knowledge about quality of life (QoL) during early RT in this group is limited and should be assessed in relation to diagnosis and treatment.
Purpose: The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to identify potential factors that may influence QoL in patients with HNC during the early stages of RT (no later than two weeks of ongoing RT). We hypothesized that pain intensity, pain interference, catastrophizing, and mood disturbances are associated with QoL during early RT.
Patients and methods: In this study, 54 patients (53% of eligible patients) diagnosed with HNC were consecutively recruited from the regular flow to the Pain and Rehabilitation Center at Linköping University. The patients completed self-reported questionnaires on sociodemographics, pain intensity, pain interference, anxiety, depression, pain catastrophizing, and QoL.
Results: The patients in this study scored high for QoL, low for pain intensity, and low for pain interference. The patients reported minor depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms. Regression analyses showed that pain intensity and depressive symptoms negatively influenced QoL.
Conclusion: No later than two weeks of RT, pain intensity and depression negatively influenced QoL in patients with HNC. Early screening for pain and depression in a targeted preventive strategy might maintain QoL during the course of the RT for patients with HNC. This assumption needs to be further investigated.

Keywords: pain, quality of life, head and neck cancer, radiotherapy, cross-sectional study

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