Background: Quality of life (QOL) and nutritional assessment of patients with head and neck cancer can provide additional information about the effects of treatment beyond the standard measures of disease control and survival. Integrating a prospective evaluation program into a multidisciplinary service may ensure that a more holistic model of care is developed. Methods: Prospective evaluation of QOL and nutrition before and after treatment for head and neck cancer was implemented in 2001. All patients enrolled in the program were treated with curative intent. Patients completed the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Core QOL Questionnaire and Head and Neck Specific Module before treatment and at 3, 6 and 12 months after completion of therapy. In conjunction, patients underwent nutritional assessment by body mass index, biochemical parameters and the patient-generated subjective global assessment tool. Results: Among 288 patients who consented to participate in this study, 134 patients completed the QOL assessment criteria and were eligible for evaluation. Examples of QOL and nutritional data for patients with cancers of the oral cavity, oropharynx, nasopharynx, larynx, hypopharynx, parotid gland and paranasal sinus, and also unknown primary cancers are given. Implementation of this prospective assessment program required appropriate resources and was hampered by time constraints, logistics with blood tests and patient compliance. Conclusions: Despite difficulties with implementation, the information concerning QOL and nutritional status obtained in this study provided an appreciation of the long-term functional effects of treatment for head and neck cancer. Prospective QOL assessment and nutritional evaluation should become integral components of the care of patients with cancers of the head and neck.
- Head and neck cancer
- Quality of life