To examine the impact of late treatment-related xerostomia and dysphagia on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients after radiotherapy. A multi-center cross-sectional survey was performed. Patients with a follow-up of at least 6 months after curative radiotherapy, without evidence of recurrent disease were eligible for inclusion. The Euroqol-5D questionnaire (EQ-5D) was filled out and toxicity was scored and converted to the RTOG scale. The EQ-5D measures generic HRQOL in terms of utility and visual analogue scale (VAS) scores. Missing data on the EQ-5D were imputed using multiple imputation. HRQOL was compared between subgroups of patients with and without toxicity. Subsequently, the impact of xerostomia and dysphagia on HRQOL was analyzed using multivariate regression analyses. Both analyses were performed separately for utility scores and VAS scores. The study population was composed of 396 HNC patients. The average utility and VAS scores were 0.85 (scale 0-1) and 75 (scale 0-100). Subgroups of patients with xerostomia and/or dysphagia showed statistically significantly lower utility and VAS scores (P = 0.000-0.022). The multivariate regression model showed that xerostomia and dysphagia were negative predictors of both utility and VAS scores. Other factors which influenced HRQOL in at least one of the two regression models were: sex, tumor location and the addition of surgery to radiotherapy. Xerostomia and dysphagia diminish generic HRQOL. Moreover dysphagia affects patients' HRQOL stronger than xerostomia.
- Quality of life
- Head and neck cancer