Participation in sport and physical activity in head and neck cancer survivors: associations with quality of life

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Head and neck cancer (HNC), and its treatment, is associated with significant side-effects which can affect quality of life (QOL). Physical activity (PA) is known to improve a number of QOL measures. We aimed to determine the prevalence of PA pre- and post-treatment of HNC and to determine associations with QOL.


A questionnaire-based survey of 172 patients pre- and post-treatment for HNC.


A total of 62.2% of patients met current UK PA guidelines pre-treatment, reducing to 40.1% following treatment. There was a significant decrease in Metabolic equivalent task minutes/week post-treatment, with 71% of participants reporting less PA after diagnosis (P < 0.001). Swimming and cycling remained the two most practiced sports. There was a positive correlation between the post-treatment PA and QOL (P < 0.001).


These data suggest that PA may improve QOL following treatment for HNC. We believe that further studies are warranted.

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