International Journal of Hematology and Oncology 2021, Vol 31, Num 2 Page(s): 130-138
The Effect of Age on the Quality of Life in Head and Neck Cancer Patients Treated with Radiotherapy

Ebru ATASEVER AKKAS1, Birsen YUCEL2

1Dr. Abdurrahman Yurtaslan Oncology Research and Training Hospital, Department of Radiation Oncology, Ankara, TURKEY
2Cumhuriyet University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Radiation Oncology, Sivas, TURKEY

Keywords: Head and Neck Cancers, Radiotherapy, Chemoradiotherapy, Quality of Life
We investigated the effect of age on the quality of life (QoL) of 310 patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) who received radiotherapy (RT) and chemoradiotherapy treatments for the head and neck region. The EORTC QLQ-C30 and EORTC QLQ-H&N35 questionnaires (version 3.0) were completed by each patient at 4 different time-points (between the start of RT and 6 months after the completion of RT). A total of 189 patients (61%) aged < 65 years were included in Group I and 121 (49%) aged ≥ 65 years in Group II. As per the RTOG acute toxicity criteria, the scores for skin toxicity (p= 0.005), mucosal toxicity (p= 0.041), neutropenia (p= 0.043), and weight loss (p= 0.007) were found to be higher for Group I than for Group II. The global health status (p= 0.002), role functioning (p< 0.001), physical function score (p< 0.001), cognitive function score (p< 0.001), fatigue (p< 0.001), pain (p =0.014), and dyspnea (p= 0.002) symptom scores were negatively affected in Group II as per the module-C30 questionnaire. No statistically significant differences were noted in the module-H&N35 scores for either age group. Elderly patients, who were considered to be more fragile due to the presence of comorbid diseases, were observed to tolerate the RT side-effects better than younger patients. The reason for this could be that older patients received less combined modality treatment and neck radiotherapy than younger patients. However, we also determined that some QoL scores of the elderly patients remained negatively affected.