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Treatment Factors Affect Cancer Patients' Quality of Life

Feeding tube, depressive symptoms affect quality of life one year after head and neck cancer treatment

WEDNESDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Factors that predict the quality of life for patients with head and neck cancer one year after initial treatment include treatment aspects, smoking and depressive symptoms, according to research published in the March issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery.

David L. Ronis, Ph.D., of the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System in Michigan, and colleagues analyzed data from 316 adult patients with newly diagnosed squamous cell head and neck cancer. Subjects answered questions on depression, smoking and quality-of-life issues.

At baseline, the most consistent predictors of quality of life (QOL) were smoking and depression, the researchers report. Baseline smoking and depressive symptoms were also strongly related to QOL at one year after treatment, as were having a feeding tube, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. During the year, physical functioning-related QOL decreased, but mental-health QOL improved, likely due to anxiety and depression at baseline over the cancer diagnosis.

"Chemotherapy and radiation therapy have profound effects on speech and eating; surgery and chemotherapy are associated with decrements on more of the physical domains of general health as measured using the SF-36. If one or more methods of treatment can be avoided without adverse effects on disease-free survival, better QOL outcomes might be expected," the authors write. "The data suggest that modifications in chemotherapy and radiation therapy protocols to improve speech and swallowing may be warranted."

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