OVER HALF OF HEAD AND NECK CANCER PATIENTS NOT PREPARED FOR IMPACT ON QUALITY OF LIFE POST TREATMENT

The 4th World Head and Neck Cancer Day will take place on Saturday 27th July.   This is the date declared by the International Federation of Head and Neck Oncology Societies as World Head and Neck Cancer Day. 

There are over 500,000 cases and 200,000 head and neck cancer related deaths globally each year.  With greater awareness of the signs and symptoms to look out for some of these cases are preventable. 

This year we have been involved in a working party, along with patient support group The Swallows and pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb, to produce a report, following a survey exploring the long-term burden of treatment on head and neck cancer patients.  The results of the patient survey are available today.    

After undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer, which can include surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, many patients report an ongoing impact on their day-to-day life. However, 55% of the 118 patients surveyed indicated they did not receive the right level of information in preparation for the complications encountered from treatment. 

Following treatment, the survey showed 56% of patients had problems with simple things like swallowing, often experiencing severe pain, while two-thirds of patients experienced changes in their voice or speech.  The survey also showed self-reported change from pre- to post- treatment in vital areas including a drop in the ability to communicate (37%), memory loss (21%), and trouble sleeping (20%).

“These results show the impact treatment has on head and neck cancer patients. The continued problems and symptoms experienced by patients after treatment significantly impacts patients’ daily life.  We also know physical disfigurement can increase social anxiety. It is important that we raise the awareness of this and work together to provide solutions to improve and support patient outcomes.” Mouth Cancer Foundation Clinical Ambassador Mr Mahesh Kumar.