Purpose: To determine, pretreatment, how head and neck cancer (HNC) patients prioritize potential treatment effects in relationship to each other and to survival and to ascertain whether patients' preferences are related to demographic or disease characteristics, performance status, or quality of life (QOL). Patients and Methods: One hundred thirty-one patients were assessed pretreatment using standardized measures of QOL (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Head and Neck) and performance (Performance Status Scale for Head and Neck Cancer). Patients were also asked to rank a series of 12 potential HNC treatment effects. Results: Being cured was ranked top priority by 75% of patients; another 18% ranked it second or third. Living as long as possible and having no pain were placed in the top three by 56% and 35% of patients, respectively. Items that were ranked in the top three by 10% to 24% of patients included those related to energy, swallowing, voice, and appearance. Items related to chewing, being understood, tasting, and dry mouth were placed in the top three by less than 10% of patients. Excluding the top three rankings, there was considerable variability in ratings. Rankings were generally unrelated to patient or disease characteristics, with the exception that cure and living were of slightly lower priority and pain of higher priority to older patients compared with younger patients. Conclusion: The data suggest that, at least pretreatment, survival is of primary importance to patients, supporting the development of aggressive treatment strategies. In addition, results highlight individual variability and warn against making assumptions about patients' attitudes vis-a-vis potential outcomes. Whether patients' priorities will change as they experience late effects is currently under investigation. (C) 2000 American Society of Clinical Oncology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research