Patient-Reported Toxicity and Quality-of-Life Profiles in Patients With Head and Neck Cancer Treated With Definitive Radiation Therapy or Chemoradiation

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Purpose: Radiation therapy is an effective but burdensome treatment for head and neck cancer (HNC). We aimed to characterize the severity and time pattern of patient-reported symptoms and quality of life in a large cohort of patients with HNC treated with definitive radiation therapy, with or without systemic treatment.

Methods and Materials: A total of 859 patients with HNC treated between 2007 and 2017 prospectively completed the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Quality of Life Questionnaire-Head and Neck Cancer module (QLQ-HN35) and Core Quality of Life Questionnaire (QLQ-C30) at regular intervals during and after treatment for up to 5 years. Patients were classified into 3 subgroups: early larynx cancer, infrahyoideal cancer, and suprahyoideal cancer. Outcome scales of both questionnaires were quantified per subgroup and time point by means of average scores and the frequency distribution of categorized severity (none, mild, moderate, and severe). Time patterns and symptom severity were characterized. Toxicity profiles were compared using linear mixed model analysis. Additional toxicity profiles based on age, human papillomavirus status, treatment modality, smoking status, tumor site, and treatment period were characterized as well.

Results: The study population consisted of 157 patients with early larynx cancer, 304 with infrahyoideal cancer, and 398 with suprahyoideal cancer. The overall questionnaire response rate was 83%. Generally, the EORTC QLQ-HN35 symptoms reported showed a clear time pattern, with increasing scores during treatment followed by a gradual recovery in the first 2 years. Distinct toxicity profiles were seen across subgroups (P < .001), with generally less severe symptom scores in the early larynx subgroup. The EORTC QLQ-C30 functioning, quality-of-life, and general symptoms reported showed a less evi- dent time pattern and less pronounced differences in mean scores between subgroups, although differences were still signifi- cant (P < .001). Differences in mean scores were most pronounced for role functioning, appetite loss, fatigue, and pain.

Conclusions: We established patient-reported toxicity and quality-of-life profiles that showed different patterns for 3 sub-groups of patients with HNC. These profiles provide detailed information on the severity and persistence of various symptoms as experienced by patients during and after definitive radiation therapy. These profiles can be used to inform treatment of future patients and may serve as a benchmark for future studies. (C) 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)456-467
Aantal pagina's12
TijdschriftInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics
Nummer van het tijdschrift2
Vroegere onlinedatum2021
StatusPublished - 1-okt-2021

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