Purpose: Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is an important treatment outcome for head and neck cancer (HNC) patients. By ascertaining the most important HNC HRQOL issues, research and practice can be directed toward enhancing patient QOL.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study of 46 ENT clinic HNC patients in Puerto Rico (PR) was completed. The European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QLQ-C30 (general QOL), and the QLQ-H&N35 (HNC QOL) instruments were administered. Correlations and multivariable regressions were separately conducted for QLQ-H&N35 variables on the three QLQ-C30 outcome variables: overall health, overall QOL, and the global health/QOL domain.
Results: Correlation findings included statistically significant negative correlations between the three QLQ-C30 outcome variables and the QLQ-H&N35 variables pain, swallowing, social eating, social contact, and sexuality. Multivariable linear regression identified statistically significant inverse indicators of the outcomes: (1) “lessening of sexuality” with “overall health” (p= 0.02), (2) “problem with social eating” (p= 0.023), “taking pain killers” (p= 0.025), and “problem with social contact” (p= 0.035) with “overall QOL,” and (3) “problems with social eating” (p < 0.009) and “taking pain killers” (p= 0.016) with the “global health/QOL” domain.
Conclusions: We conclude that problems with pain, social eating, social interactions, and loss of sexuality are critical indicators of degraded HRQOL in HNC patients living in Puerto Rico. Our results add to the overall knowledge base regarding QOL among HNC patients. The promise of improved QOL for the HNC patient is attainable through additional research in conjunction with advances in clinical treatments and patient management protocols.