Symptoms of patients with incurable head and neck cancer: Prevalence and impact on daily functioning

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Background.There is lack of research on symptoms in patients with head and neck cancer in the palliative phase. The aim of this study was to explore symptom prevalence and the impact of these symptoms on daily functioning in patients with incurable head and neck cancer. Also, discrepancies between patients and family caregivers are described.Methods.Questionnaires were used to collect data about symptom prevalence (n= 124) and symptom impact (n= 24).Results.We discovered that the symptoms with a high prevalence were fatigue, pain, weakness, trouble with short walks outside, and dysphagia. The symptoms with the greatest impact on daily functioning were dyspnea, voice changes, trouble with short walks outside, anger, and weakness.Conclusions.Patients with incurable head and neck cancer experience a great number of different symptoms. Focus on these symptoms by health care professionals could further optimize symptom management. In future research, we recommend further validation of the used questionnaires. Head Neck, 2012

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