Objectives: To analyze how the dental status of long-term head and neck cancer survivors affects their subjective quality of life.
Study Design: Observational case series.
Methods: A convenience sample of 5-year head and neck cancer survivors underwent the following battery of tests: 1) targeted head and neck examination, 2) updated medical history, 3) dental evaluation, 4) standardized quality of life questionnaires.
Results: Eighty-six survivors were included in the study. The following associations were identified: 1) those who became edentulous secondary to cancer treatment and those without occlusion at time of the study demonstrated worse Pain, Activity, Recreation/Entertainment, Chewing, Swallowing, Speech, Eating in Public, Normalcy of Diet, Physical Well-Being, Social/Family Well-Being, Functional Well-Being, and Additional Concerns scores; 2) higher Decayed/Missing/Filled scores were associated with worse Pain, Disfigurement, Activity, Recreation/Entertainment, Employment, Chewing, Swallowing, Speech, Eating in Public, Understandability of Speech, Normalcy of Diet, Physical Well-Being, Additional Concerns scores, and weight loss; 3) decreased oral opening measurements were associated with worse Chewing, Swallowing, Eating in Public, Normalcy of Diet, Additional Concerns scores, and weight loss; 4) edentulous survivors who did not use dentures had worse Pain, Activity, Recreation/Entertainment, Understandability of Speech, and Eating in Public scores.
Conclusions: Although previous studies have shown that many of the effects of cancer treatment disappear between 1 and 3 years, this study shows that the dental status has a persistent impact on subjective quality of life.