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Quality of life after free-flap reconstruction in patients with oral and pharyngeal cancer


  • Presented in part at the Annual Meeting of Scandinavian Otorhinolaryngological Society, Stockholm, Sweden, 8 June 2002, and the Annual Meeting of the Finnish Otolaryngological Society, Helsinki, Finland, 13 February 2003



Our aim was to investigate quality of life and outcome after microvascular free-flap reconstruction after oncologic surgery.


Forty-four patients with a large carcinoma in the oral cavity, oral pharynx, or hypopharynx underwent free-flap surgery with or without radiotherapy. Patients completed the University of Washington Quality-of-Life Questionnaire preoperatively and four times during the 12 postoperative months. Survival rates and complications were analyzed.


Postoperative composite quality-of-life scores were significantly lower than before treatment with no significant overall improvement during the follow-up. The scores for disfigurement, chewing, speech, and shoulder function remained significantly below the preoperative level throughout the follow-up. Sociodemographic factors predicted quality of life. Heavy drinking and unemployment caused a 2.4-fold and a 4.4-fold increase in risk of death, respectively. The rates for overall survival, tumor recurrence, flap success, and surgical complications were consistent with previous literature.


Sociodemographic variables affect quality of life and patient survival in patients with oral cancer treated with microvascular free-flap reconstruction. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck27: XXX–XXX, 2005