-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Persistent pain, eating
problems and depression are the most common problems experienced by
long-term survivors of head and neck cancer, a new study finds.
In the study, published in the Jan. 16 online issue of the
Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery, researchers looked at 337 people who were diagnosed with head and neck cancer from 1995 to 2004 and survived at least five years.
More than 50 percent of the survivors had problems eating
because of poor throat functioning, 28.5 percent had symptoms of
depression and more than 17 percent had substantial pain, the
However, when the long-term survivors were compared to
age-matched people in the general population, their average general
health was similar, Dr. Gerry Funk, of the University of Iowa
Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, and colleagues explained in a
journal news release.
The investigators also found that pain and diet in the first
year after cancer treatment were the strongest independent
predictors of five-year, health-related quality-of-life
Problems with mouth and throat function in head and neck cancer
survivors can be due to factors such as neuromuscular changes,
anatomic deficits after surgery, pain and dental problems, the
"Early interventions addressing eating issues, swallowing problems and pain management will be a crucial component in improving this patient population's long-term quality of life, especially in those who are functioning poorly one year after diagnosis," the study authors concluded.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
head and neck cancer.
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