Abstract

Introduction: The aim of this prospective study was to investigate the course of sexual interest and enjoyment in relation to sociodemographic and clinical factors, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and symptoms of psychological distress in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients treated with primary (chemo)radiotherapy. Methods: HNC patients (n = 354) completed patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) on HRQOL (EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-H&N35, including the sexuality subscale covering less sexual interest and enjoyment), and psychological distress (HADS) pretreatment, at 6-week follow-up and at 3-, 6-, 12-, 18-, and 24-month follow-up (i.e., after treatment). Linear mixed models were used to analyze the course of sexuality from pretreatment to 24-month follow-up, and to investigate its relation to sociodemographic and clinical factors, HRQOL, and psychological distress as measured at baseline, and to investigate the course of sexuality from 6- to 24-month follow-up in relation to these factors measured at 6-month follow-up. Results: Before start of treatment, 37% of patients reported having less sexuality, which increased to 60% at 6-week follow-up, and returned to baseline level from 12-month follow-up onwards. Older age (p = 0.037) and trouble with social contact (p < 0.001), weight loss (p = 0.013), and constipation (p = 0.041) before treatment were associated with less sexuality over time. Female gender (p = 0.021) and poor social functioning (p < 0.001) at 6-month follow-up were associated with less sexuality from 6- to 24-month follow-up. Discussion: Less sexuality is often reported in HNC patients treated with (chemo)radiotherapy. Using PROMs in clinical practice may help identify patients who might benefit from supportive care targeting sexuality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-126
Number of pages7
JournalOral Oncology
Volume83
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018

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