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Keywords:

  • quality of life;
  • nasopharyngeal carcinoma;
  • oral health;
  • radiotherapy;
  • complications;
  • questionnaire

summary Although the complications of head and neck radiotherapy in the treatment of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) have been described, there is limited information on the effect of oral complications on oral health related quality of life. The aim of this study was to describe the psychosocial and functional impact of oral conditions in southern Chinese following radiotherapy for NPC. A cross-sectional study design was used with a sample of 109 subjects including NPC survivors, newly diagnosed NPC cases and a control group. Oral health related quality of life was assessed through the SF-36 and the Oral Health Impact Profile measures and a dry mouth measure. Data on socio-demographic variables and treatment seeking were also collected. The psychosocial and functional impact of oral conditions as revealed by the health status measures was significantly greater in NPC survivors than newly diagnosed NPC cases and controls. The oral specific and condition specific measures appeared to discriminate more effectively between groups than the generic measure. NPC survivors sought significantly more dental treatment than the other groups. The oral complications of radiotherapy for NPC, notably sequelae of salivary gland damage, have a significant negative effect on oral health related quality of life and result in an increased burden of dental care in the long-term.