Quality of life in non-melanoma skin cancer

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Abstract

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common malignancies and are classified under the umbrella of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC). NMSC exerts a small but appreciable decrement in quality of life (QOL). The impact posed may arise from the tumour itself or as a result of treatment, and through symptoms, functional limitations, cosmetic burden and auxiliary considerations such as cost and disturbance to the activities of daily living. Researchers have evaluated this burden using a variety of outcome measures including generic, dermatology-specific and disease-specific instruments. The skin cancer index represents a promising disease-specific patient-reported outcome measure in this setting. To overcome some of the constraints inherent to disease-specific instruments, and to allow comparisons with other diseases, utility weightings have been developed. Utility weightings represent a cardinal measure for a specific health status and are established through methods such as the standard gamble, willingness-to-pay and time trade-off, and have also been employed to generate utility weightings for NMSC. Utilities are becoming increasingly important as a means of comparing health states across medicine and are of particular importance from a health-care policy perspective as they are used for resource allocation. The small but definite impact on the individual's QOL posed by NMSC should be a clinical consideration for physicians and it should be recognised by researchers as a potential outcome measure.

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