Physical and psychosocial correlates of head and neck cancer: an update of the literature and challenges for the future (1996–2003)


Q.C.P. Ledeboer, MD, Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Erasmus MC, PO Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, the Netherlands, E-mail:


• An update of the literature on physical and psychosocial aspects of head and neck cancer, with special emphasis on effects of treatment, patient-related factors and psychosocial intervention on quality of life (QoL).

• QoL deteriorates during and directly after treatment and returns only slowly to pre-treatment values.

• Organ preservation, gender and coping-strategies are factors related to QoL after treatment.

• As prognosis and survival were found to be comparable under different treatment regimes, we noticed a gradual shift in therapy towards organ preservation.

• Systematic care, using specific instruments is important for improving the QoL.

• We feel that more attention should be given to improving support, in order to optimize the QoL of patients during the palliative stage.