Functional status and coping in patients with oral and pharyngeal cancer before and after surgery



Background. Few studies, prospective or retrospective, exist that describe the quality of life of patients with oral or pharyngeal cancer. This study describes functional status, measured by the sickness impact profile (SIP), and coping, measured by the sense of coherence (SOC) scale, in a group of patients treated by surgery for oral or pharyngeal cancer.

Methods. Forty-two patients, divided into two groups, participated in the study. Twenty-seven patients completed SIP and SOC scale 12 months after treatment (the 12-month follow-up group), and 15 patients completed SIP and SOC scale before surgery and SIP 2-4 months and 12 months after treatment (the prospective group). The patients were also classified according to the extensiveness of their surgery: minor, moderate, or major.

Results. The psychosocial and physical functioning as well as the functions of recreation/pastimes, sleep/rest, home management, work, and eating were rated as being impaired 2-4 months and also 12 months after treatment. However, the obtained values were spread over a wide range, with large individual differences. Functional limitations were related to more extensive surgery and also to less successful coping.

Conclusion. This study reveals the need of individualized rehabilitation for these patients, and that the SIP and the SOC scale may serve as evaluation tools in a rehabilitation program.