Oral health related quality of life in head and neck cancer survivors within the first year following treatment: a cross-sectional study in Karachi, Pakistan

Sana Qamar, Shafquat Rozi, Sobia Sawani, Muhammad Sohail Awan, Shabbir Akhtar, Moghira Iqbaluddin Siddiqui, Syed Akbar Abbas, Shazia Taimoor, Farhan Raza Khan

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After completing treatment for head and neck cancer (HNC), patients often face oral complications like oral pain, limited mouth opening and dry mouth which significantly reduce their oral health related quality of life (OHRQoL). These issues impact their overall well-being, social activities and long-term survival. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate OHRQoL and its association with sociodemographic characteristics, oral hygiene practices and oral clinical parameters such as oral hygiene status and oral mucositis grade in patients who have completed treatment for head and neck cancer. This cross-sectional study involved 79 HNC-treated patients within first year after completion of cancer treatment attending ENT and dental clinics at outpatient department (OPD) setting in Karachi. Data was collected electronically using structured questionnaire comprising of EORTC QLQ H&N – 35 to measure OHRQoL, patients were also examined for oral hygiene status using oral hygiene index- simplified (OHI-s) and oral mucositis grade using WHO oral mucositis scale. Multiple linear regression was used to test OHRQoL associations with the sociodemographic and different clinical factors. The result showed an overall mean score for oral health related quality of life (OHRQoL) of 25.02 ± 15.86 (95% CI 21.46–28.57), with difficulty in mouth opening 53.16 ± 18.88 and dry mouth 45.14 ± 24.48 being predominant concerns for decline in the OHRQoL in the population. Male predilection was observed among participants n = 60 (75.9%), majority of the participants n = 41 (51.9%) were below 52 years of age. n = 63 (80%) participants received radiotherapy alongside surgery and chemotherapy. Most of participants n = 66 (83.5%) experienced moderate to severe oral mucositis with poor oral hygiene status n = 56 (71%). Significant associations were found between OHRQoL and BMI, OH status, marital status, monthly income, gender and fluoride toothpaste (p < 0.05). These findings suggest that Quality of Life (QoL) among HNC treated patients is negatively impacted by their poor oral health, post cancer treatment. Therefore, it is important to evaluate and modify the current treatment modalities and involve multidisciplinary teams, to improve their OHRQoL thereby enhancing overall QoL.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2560
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024


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