Physical rehabilitation in patients with head and neck cancer: Impact on health-related quality of life and suitability of a post-treatment program
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionLaryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology. 2020, 5 (2), 330-338. 10.1002/lio2.368
Objective: Physical rehabilitation programs hold the potential to mitigate deterioration in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in patients with head and neck cancer. The objective was to assess development in relevant domains of HRQoL following a physical exercise and nutrition intervention administrated during or after treatment. Methods: In a pilot study, 41 patients were randomized to resistance training and oral nutritional supplements during (EN-DUR, n = 20) or after (EN-AF, n = 21) radiotherapy. Global health status/QoL (GHS) and physical functioning (PF) were measured by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) quality of life questionnaire at baseline, week 6, and week 14. Differences between the groups were assessed by analysis of covariance. A difference of ≥10 points in GHS and PF was interpreted as clinically relevant. Results: No statistically significant differences were detected between the groups; however, clinically relevant changes and differences in GHS and PF were observed. From baseline to week 6, GHS decreased 9 points in the EN-DUR group and 23 points in the EN-AF group and PF decreased 13 points and 21 points, respectively. From week 6 to week 14, GHS increased 14 points in the EN-DUR group and 26 points EN-AF group and PF did not change (0 points) in the EN-DUR group and increased 16 points in the EN-AF group. Conclusion: The findings from the present pilot study are promising and indicate that a physical rehabilitation program may have a positive impact on HRQoL during treatment and enhance recovery after treatment. A definitive randomized trial is warranted. Level of evidence: 1b-Individual randomized controlled trial.