PURPOSE: The aim of this paper is to determine whether health-related quality of life (HRQOL) at diagnosis of head and neck cancer (HNC) is associated with overall survival following treatment with curative intent after adjusting for other factors.
METHODS: Data were collected from 5511 participants of the Head and Neck 5000 study (HN5000). HRQOL was measured using the EORTC QLQ-C30. Questionnaire and covariate data were available from 2171 participants diagnosed as follows: oral cavity (655), oropharynx HPV+ (723) and HPV- (277), and larynx (516). On average, participants were followed up 3.2 years (SD 1.2) after diagnosis. Data were adjusted for age, gender, co-morbidity, intended treatment, education level, income from benefits, smoking status and alcohol consumption.
RESULTS: There was a clinically meaningful difference between Global HRQOL scores at diagnosis and survival in an unadjusted and adjusted model: [HR = 0.86, CI 0.82-0.89, p < 0.001 (unadjusted) and HR = 0.90, CI 0.86-0.94, p < 0.001 (adjusted)]. In analyses stratified by tumour site and HPV status, this association was similarly noted before adjustment and persisted after. There were some tumour sub-site variations: improved survival for people with laryngeal cancer reporting higher levels of physical role or social functioning and people with oral cancer reporting higher levels of role or social functioning.
CONCLUSION: As survival is the main priority for most people diagnosed with cancer, pre-treatment HRQOL is an additional factor to be included in risk stratification and case-mix adjustments. There is merit in incorporating HRQOL into routine clinical care as this is a useful facet in patient-clinician decision making, prognostication and recovery.
- health related quality of life
- head and neck cancer
- squamous cell carcinoma