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Health-related quality of life in long-term head and neck cancer survivors: a comparison with general population norms.

Journal article
Authors Eva Hammerlid
Charles Taft
Published in British journal of cancer
Volume 84
Issue 2
Pages 149-56
ISSN 0007-0920
Publication year 2001
Published at Institute of Selected Clinical Sciences, Department of Otolaryngology
Institute of Internal Medicine
Pages 149-56
Language en
Keywords Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Cough, etiology, Female, Head and Neck Neoplasms, complications, psychology, Health Surveys, Humans, Laryngeal Neoplasms, complications, psychology, Male, Middle Aged, Mouth Neoplasms, complications, psychology, Neoplasm Staging, Norway, Pain, etiology, Pharyngeal Neoplasms, complications, psychology, Population Surveillance, Quality of Life, Survivors, psychology, statistics & numerical data, Sweden, Tooth Diseases, etiology
Subject categories Medical and Health Sciences


To examine the health-related quality of life (HRQL) in long-term head and neck (H&N) cancer survivors compared with general population norms. HRQL was assessed with three standardized questionnaires: the SF-36 Health Survey (Short Form 36) and the EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-H&N35 (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire, -Core 30 and -Head and Neck 35 cancer module). Altogether 135 H&N cancer patients (mean age 62 years, 31% females) of 151 survivors (89% acceptance) from a longitudinal HRQL study (n = 232) were included 3 years after diagnosis. The H&N cancer patients' SF-36 scores did not differ significantly from those of an age- and sex-matched sample (n = 871) from the Swedish normative population, except on the role-physical functioning scale. On the other hand, treatment-related side-effects and disease-specific problems (e.g., swallowing, local pain and dry mouth) measured by the H&N cancer module were, with few exceptions, significantly worse than norm values. Gender comparisons revealed that female H&N cancer patients generally scored better than the norms on both the SF-36 and the EORTC QLQ-C30, while the male patients scored significantly worse on most SF-36 scales. Patients > or =65 years more often scored worse than the norm than did patients <65. Clinically relevant differences were found on the majority of SF-36 scales in comparison of tumour sites, however, comparisons of patients with small (stage I+II) versus advanced (stage III+IV) tumours revealed few differences. Three years after diagnosis H&N cancer patients still suffer significant functional limitations/problems related to their disease and its treatment but these problems do not generally affect their overall HRQL. Tumour stage no longer differentiates HRQL at 3 years, however, factors related to the patients' age, gender and location of the tumour appear to have bearing on their reported health status.

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