Psychological distress and health-related quality of life among head and neck cancer patients during the first year after treatment



Patients treated for head and neck cancer present some of the most significant posttreatment morbidity of any group of patients with cancer. Our aim is to describe quality of life and psychological distress after different treatments among head and neck cancer patients during the first year after treatment.


A total of 86 patients treated for head and neck cancer were evaluated within 1 year of the end of treatment by means of the Distress Thermometer (DT) and EORTC C30 and H&N35 questionnaires. Type of treatment was classified into 3 groups: surgery, chemo-/radiotherapy, and combined treatment.


Forty-one percent of patients showed a high level of distress (DT >5). Distress was higher in patients with a tracheotomy or with previous cancer in another district. Quality of life was homogeneous across treatment types after adjustment for stage and time since end of treatment, except for higher levels of suffering related to sensory problems, social eating, and dry mouth among patients treated with combined therapy.


The DT and EORTC questionnaires proved to be effective and easy tools to monitor distress and quality of life in patients with head and neck cancer. Monitoring the quality of life perceived by each patient during his/her course of treatment could be useful in planning the rehabilitation process while performing follow-up visits.

Tumori 2016; 102(1): 96 - 102




Maria Benedetta Ninu, Guido Miccinesi, Francesco Bulli, Alessio De Massimi, Maria Grazia Muraca, Giovanna Franchi, Massimo Squadrelli Saraceno

Article History


Financial support: The authors declare they have not received any funding for this study.
Conflict of interest: The authors declare they do not have any conflict of interest.

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  • AOUC SOD ORL2, University Hospital Careggi, Otolaryngology Unit 2 , Florence - Italy
  • Epidemiology Unit, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute (ISPO), Florence - Italy
  • Cancer Rehabilitation Center (CERION), Cancer Prevention and Research Institute (ISPO), Florence - Italy

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