Late systemic symptoms in head and neck cancer survivors
Dietrich, Mary S.
Murphy, Barbara A.
PurposeNeuroinflammation and central sensitization from cancer and its therapy may result in chronic systemic symptoms (CSS) such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, chronic widespread pain, mood disorders, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and temperature dysregulation. We undertook a cross-sectional study of CSS in head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors to determine their frequency, severity, and impact.MethodsHNC patients without evidence of recurrence who were at least 12months post-treatment completed a one-time battery of self-report measures including the Vanderbilt Head and Neck Symptom survey plus the General Symptom Subscale, the Body Image Quality of Life Inventory, Neurotoxicity Rating Scale, the Profile of Mood States, and a five-item quality of life measure.ResultsOne hundred five patients completed the surveys. Forty-eight point four percentof patients experienced one or more moderate-to-severe systemic symptom. The frequency of individual symptoms was between 20% and 56% with almost half of patients rating symptoms as moderate-to-severe in intensity. Low and high systemic symptom burden populations were identified. Previously undescribed chronic neuropsychiatric symptoms were also found to be frequent and severe. The vigor score on the POMS was low. Body image was not adversely impacted. At least 40% of HNC survivors have diminished quality of life, and up to 15% have apoor quality of life.ConclusionsCSS are common among HNC survivors and are frequently moderate to severe in intensity. Of note, previously underrecognized neuropsychiatric symptoms were endorsed by a significant cohort of patients warranting further study. Quality of life was diminished in a significant cohort.