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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • oncology;
  • oral cavity cancer;
  • radiation therapy;
  • supportive care needs;
  • anxiety

Abstract

Objective

This study aimed to examine changes in physical symptom severity, functional status, supportive care needs, and related factors in oral cavity cancer patients during 6 months after beginning radiation therapy (RT) or concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy (CCRT).

Methods

A prospective longitudinal study was conducted involving oral cavity cancer patients from an RT clinic at a medical center in northern Taiwan. Patients were assessed for supportive care needs and physical symptoms at five time points: before the beginning of RT or CCRT and at 1, 2, 3, and 6 months after beginning RT or CCRT. The generalized estimating equation was used to identify predictors of overall needs as well as six specific dimensions of needs.

Results

A total of 82 patients completed the 6 months of follow-up. Patients had moderate to high levels of supportive care needs over the 6 months. Although the highest information need was at the pretreatment phase, in general, the peak for overall and individual care needs was at 2 months since first receiving RT or CCRT. Patients without religious beliefs as well as those with higher educational level, functional level, overall physical symptom severity, and baseline anxiety reported more supportive care needs. Anxiety level before treatment was the most common factor across most supportive care needs. Individual physical symptoms, including fatigue, swallowing difficulty, and oral mucositis, were significantly related to higher physical and daily living needs.

Conclusions

A systematic clinical assessment to detect patients' care needs is necessary to improve the provision of timely cancer care and meet patients' healthcare needs. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.