Malnutrition and food intake in relation to quality of life in head and neck cancer patients

Authors

  • Eva Hammerlid MD, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg University, S-413 45 Göteborg, Sweden
    • Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg University, S-413 45 Göteborg, Sweden
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  • Brita Wirblad RD,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg University, S-413 45 Göteborg, Sweden
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  • Carina Sandin RN,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg University, S-413 45 Göteborg, Sweden
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  • Claes Mercke MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Oncology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden
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  • Staffan Edström MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg University, S-413 45 Göteborg, Sweden
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  • Stein Kaasa MD, PhD,

    1. Palliative Medicine Unit, Department of Medical Oncology and Radiotherapy, University Hospital of Trondheim, Trondheim, Norway
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  • Marianne Sullivan PhD,

    1. Health Care Research Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden
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  • Thomas Westin MD

    1. Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg University, S-413 45 Göteborg, Sweden
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Abstract

Background

The quality of life (QL) of cancer patients has attracted an increasing interest in recent years. Patients with head and neck cancer often have troublesome symptoms due to the disease and to treatment side effects, which will have an impact on the patient's QL. The aim of this study was to evaluate the possibility of studying QL in relation to well-known clinical parameters.

Methods

Patient's QL was evaluated according to the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Core Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) combined with a diagnosis-specific questionnaire. Quality of life was measured in a cross section of head and neck cancer patients (n = 48) and related to nutritional status, energy intake, severity of disease, and 2-year survival.

Results

Fifty-one percent of the patients (mean age, 67 years) fulfilled the criteria proposed for malnutrition, and 55% had a negative energy balance. We did not find any correlation between the severity of the cancer disease and the patient's self-rated QL. However, we found significantly better QL ratings among the 2-year survivors (mean, 63; range 52–76 versus mean, 42; range, 31–54; p < .05). There were few correlations between the QL items and malnutrition.

Conclusions

Quality of life measurements offer objective information on well-being, sometimes quite opposite that of other clinical parameters, such as tumor stage. Furthermore, QL measurements may be of prognostic value concerning the survival of head and neck cancer patients. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Head Neck20: 540–548, 1998.

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