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