Quality-of-life among head and neck cancer survivors at one year after treatment - A systematic review

W. K.W. So, R. J. Chan, D. N.S. Chan, B. G.M. Hughes, S. Y. Chair, K. C. Choi, C. W.H. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The importance of quality-of-life (QoL) research has been recognised over the past two decades in patients with head and neck (H&N) cancer. The aims of this systematic review are to evaluate the QoL status of H&N cancer survivors one year after treatment and to identify the determinants affecting their QoL. Methods: Pubmed, Medline, Scopus, Sciencedirect and CINAHL (2000-2011) were searched for relevant studies, and two of the present authors assessed their methodological quality. The characteristics and main findings of the studies were extracted and reported. Results: Thirty-seven studies met the inclusion criteria, and the methodological quality of the majority was moderate to high. While patients of the group in question recover their global QoL by 12 months after treatment, a number of outstanding issues persist - deterioration in physical functioning, fatigue, xerostomia and sticky saliva. Age, cancer site, stage of disease, social support, smoking, feeding tube placement and alcohol consumption are the significant determinants of QoL at 12 months, while gender has little or no influence. Conclusions: Regular assessments should be carried out to monitor physical functioning, degree of fatigue, xerostomia and sticky saliva. Further research is required to develop appropriate and effective interventions to deal with these issues, and thus to promote the patients' QoL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2391-2408
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer survivors
  • Critical appraisal
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Quality-of-life
  • Symptoms
  • Systematic review


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