Serious Long-Term Effects of Head and Neck Cancer from the Survivors’ Point of View

Katherine J. Taylor*, Cecilie D. Amdal, Kristin Bjordal, Guro L. Astrup, Bente B. Herlofson, Fréderic Duprez, Ricardo R. Gama, Alexandre Jacinto, Eva Hammerlid, Melissa Scricciolo, Femke Jansen, Irma M. Verdonck-de Leeuw, Giuseppe Fanetti, Orlando Guntinas-Lichius, Johanna Inhestern, Tatiana Dragan, Alexander Fabian, Andreas Boehm, Ulrike Wöhner, Naomi KiyotaMaximilian Krüger, Pierluigi Bonomo, Monica Pinto, Sandra Nuyts, Joaquim C. Silva, Carmen Stromberger, Francesco Tramacere, Ayman Bushnak, Pietro Perotti, Michaela Plath, Alberto Paderno, Noa Stempler, Maria Kouri, Susanne Singer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The long-term problems of head and neck cancer survivors (HNCS) are not well known. In a cross-sectional international study aimed at exploring the long-term quality of life in this population, 1114 HNCS were asked to state their two most serious long-term effects. A clinician recorded the responses during face-to-face appointments. A list of 15 example problems was provided, but a free text field was also available. A total of 1033 survivors responded to the question. The most frequent problems were ‘dry mouth’ (DM) (n = 476; 46%), ‘difficulty swallowing/eating’ (DSE) (n = 408; 40%), ‘hoarseness/difficulty speaking’ (HDS) (n = 169; 16%), and ‘pain in the head and neck’ (PHN) (n = 142; 14%). A total of 5% reported no problems. Logistic regression adjusted for age, gender, treatment, and tumor stage and site showed increased odds of reporting DM and DSE for chemo-radiotherapy (CRT) alone compared to surgery alone (odds ratio (OR): 4.7, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.5–9.0; OR: 2.1, CI: 1.1–3.9), but decreased odds for HDS and PHN (OR: 0.3, CI: 0.1–0.6; OR: 0.2, CI: 0.1–0.5). Survivors with UICC stage IV at diagnosis compared to stage I had increased odds of reporting HDS (OR: 1.9, CI: 1.2–3.0). Laryngeal cancer survivors had reduced odds compared to oropharynx cancer survivors of reporting DM (OR: 0.4, CI: 0.3–0.6) but increased odds of HDS (OR: 7.2, CI: 4.3–12.3). This study provides evidence of the serious long-term problems among HNCS.
Original languageEnglish
Article number906
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

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