Emotional Distress in Head-and-neck Cancer Patients Scheduled for Chemoradiation or Radiotherapy Alone

Ahmed Al-Saloo, Tamer Soror, Nathan Y. Yu, Christian Idel, Karl L. Bruchhage, Samer G. Hakim, Dirk Rades*

*Corresponding author for this work


Background/Aim: Radiotherapy for head-and-neck cancer is often associated with significant toxicities, which may cause emotional distress. We evaluated prevalence and risk factors for pre-treatment emotional problems in patients irradiated for head-and-neck cancer. Patients and Methods: Twelve characteristics were retrospectively investigated in 213 patients for associations with emotional problems (worry, fear, sadness, depression, nervousness, loss of interest). After Bonferroni adjustment, p-values <0.0042 were regarded significant. Results: At least one emotional problem was reported by 131 patients (61.5%). Specific prevalence for emotional problems ranged between 10% and 44%. Physical complaints showed significant associations with all six emotional problems (p<0.0001) and female sex with sadness (p=0.0013). Trends were found for associations between female sex and fear (p=0.0097), history of another tumor and sadness (p=0.043), worse performance status and nervousness (p=0.012), and cancer site (oropharynx/oral cavity) and nervousness (p=0.063). Conclusion: More than 60% of patients reported emotional distress prior to radiotherapy for head-and-neck cancer. Patients with risk factors likely require near-term psycho-oncological assistance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnticancer Research
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)2227-2233
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 05.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Luebeck Integrated Oncology Network (LION)
  • Centers: University Cancer Center Schleswig-Holstein (UCCSH)


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