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Keywords:

  • Skin cancer;
  • quality of life;
  • preventive behavior

Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis Health-related quality of life (QOL) assessment of patients with nonmelanoma skin cancer is poorly understood. The objectives of the study were to determine the general QOL of patients with cervicofacial skin cancer and to identify patient, clinical, and preventive behavior variables associated with patients' QOL.

Study Design Cross-sectional study of 121 consecutive patients (65 female and 56 male patients) presenting to a dermatological Mohs surgery clinic with nonmelanoma skin cancer of the head and neck.

Methods Quality of life assessment was performed before counseling or treatment. Measures included the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36-item Health Survey (SF-36) and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy–General (FACT-G).

Results Both instruments demonstrated good internal consistency as measured by Cronbach's alpha (SF-36, α = 0.45–0.91; FACT-G, α = 0.61–0.90). The SF-36 scores were similar to historical norms. Bivariate analysis indicated significant correlation coefficients between QOL and patients' coexisting illnesses and medical risk factors. Sun-protective behaviors were associated with better QOL. The relationship appeared to be minimally influenced by patients' sociodemographic characteristics and disease-related variables (size, location, extent).

Conclusions Sun-protective behaviors were positively associated with certain QOL subscale scores in the population in the study. General QOL instruments demonstrated minimal impact of nonmelanoma skin cancer on patients at initial diagnosis. However, general measures may not be sensitive to the impact of nonmelanoma skin cancer. The development of a more disease-specific instrument may be necessary to evaluate this disease process.