More than 40,000 new cases of head and neck cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States, with 12,000 deaths annually. Researchers say there are about 500,000 new cases worldwide each year.More than half of head- and neck-cancer patients surveyed in a new study say they are disabled by their cancer treatment.
Researchers conducted a study where 384 patients were observed , of the 348 patients, 52 percent were disabled by their treatment. Patients who had chemotherapy were 3.4-times more likely to be disabled. Well-recognized side effects include mucositis, anemia, immunosuppression, fatigue, malaise, and nausea.
Patients who had neck-dissection surgery were 2.3-times more likely to be disabled. The findings confirm previous neck-dissection studies that show patients had increased levels of pain, weakness, and overall loss of function.
People with head and neck cancer often experience problems with eating, communicating, pain, and poor emotional well-being. These patients often become unemployed as a result of their disease process.
However researchers say that their results should not be used to argue against chemotherapy or neck dissection and they say that treatment decisions should primarily be weighted toward treatments that maximize survival.