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Keywords:

  • head and neck cancer;
  • lymphedema;
  • symptom;
  • functional status;
  • quality of life (QOL)

Abstract

Background

Lymphedema may disrupt local function and affect quality of life (QOL) in patients with head and neck cancer. The purpose of this study was to examine the associations among severity of internal and external lymphedema, symptoms, functional status, and QOL in patients with head and neck cancer.

Methods

The sample included 103 patients who were ≥3 months after head and neck cancer treatment. Variables assessed included severity of internal and external lymphedema, physical/psychological symptoms, functional status, and QOL.

Results

Severity of internal and external lymphedema was associated with physical symptoms and psychological symptoms. Patients with more severe external lymphedema were more likely to have a decrease in neck left/right rotation. The combined effects of external and internal lymphedema severity were associated with hearing impairment and decreased QOL.

Conclusions

Lymphedema severity correlates with symptom burden, functional status, and QOL in patients after head and neck cancer treatment. Head Neck, 2013