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Quality of life scores predict survival among patients with head and neck cancer

Karvonen-Gutierrez CA, Ronis DL, Fowler KE, Terrell JE, Gruber SB, Duffy SA. Quality of life scores predict survival among patients with head and neck cancer. Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 2008 Jun 1; 26(16):2754-60.

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PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to examine whether quality of life (QOL) scores predict survival among patients with head and neck cancer, controlling for demographic, health behavior, and clinical variables. PATIENTS AND METHODS: A self-administered questionnaire was given to 495 patients being treated for head and neck cancer while they were waiting to be seen for a clinic appointment. Data collected from the survey included demographics, health behaviors, and QOL as measured by Short Form-36 (SF-36) physical and mental component scores and the Head and Neck QOL scores. Clinical measures were collected by chart abstraction. Kaplan-Meier plots and univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazards models were used to determine the association between QOL scores and survival time. RESULTS: After controlling for age, time since diagnosis, marital status, education, tumor site and stage, comorbidities, and smoking, the SF-36 physical component score and three of the four Head and Neck QOL scales (pain, eating, and speech domains) were associated with survival. Controlling for the same variables, the SF-36 mental component score and the emotional domain of the Head and Neck QOL were not associated with survival. CONCLUSION: QOL instruments may be valuable screening tools to identify patients who are at high risk for poor survival. Those with low QOL scores could be followed more closely, with the potential to identify recurrence earlier and perform salvage treatments, thereby possibly improving survival for this group of patients.

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