Background: The assessment of the quality of life (QOL) has become an important aspect of oral cancer research. It has allowed the evaluation of the impacts of the disease as well as the treatment from the patients perspective.
Objectives: The objective of this study is to assess the QOL of oral cancer patients undergoing post-operative radiotherapy (PORT) during treatment as well as after the completion of treatment.
Materials and Methods: It is a hospital-based prospective observational study. It was carried out in Regional Cancer Centre, Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar Hospital, Raipur, India. A total of 108 oral cancer patients with cancer-free survival after surgery who satisfied the study criteria and got registered for PORT were included as study participants. The data with regard to their QOL were collected using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QOL Core Questionnaire-C30 and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Head and Neck Module (QLQ-H and N35) at three time-points, i.e., just before initiation, just after completion, and 6 months after completion of PORT. Mean, median, standard deviation, standard error, and 95% confidence intervals were calculated. Statistical significance was set at P < 0.05. The association between QOL at various time points was analyzed using Wilcoxon signed-rank test and Friedmans ANOVA.
Results: It was elicited that various scales of functional and symptomatic domains of QOL were significantly impaired at the end of RT and either restored to or improved from pre-RT level, at 6 months after completion of PORT. However, social functioning, nausea vomiting, appetite loss, dry mouth, and sticky saliva remained significantly deteriorated at the final assessment as compared to pre-RT level.
Conclusions: This study concludes that QOL alters significantly over a short period of time from pre-RT to subsequent post-treatment period. However, it emphasizes the all-important need for psycho-social support in addition to disease cure for oral cancer patients during their treatment as well as a later period.
Key words: Oral Cancer; Quality of Life; Post-operative Radiotherapy