Mood, Quality of Life Is Worse in HPV-Positive Patients With Head and Neck Cancer: Presented at ASCO PalliativeCare

By Matt Silver

SAN FRANCISCO -- September 12, 2016 -- Patients with HPV-positive head and neck cancer have a larger decrease in quality of life (QOL) during treatment than patients with HPV-negative head and neck cancer, investigators reported here at the 2016 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium.

This worsened QOL corresponds to a more threatening illness perception and more depressive symptoms, so interventions tailored to symptom management and mood should be developed for this unique population, according to Jessica Bauman, MD, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and colleagues.

“We know that patients with HPV positive head and neck cancer have a better prognosis that patients with HPV negative head and neck cancers and the majority are cured of their cancers,” said Dr. Bauman. “However, this study highlights how symptomatic they become very quickly even just 3 weeks into treatment with chemo-radiation -- a very aggressive treatment to experience.”

While plenty of studies have been done on the impact of head and neck cancer on QOL, the impact of HPV status on QOL and how this effects illness perception and mood in patients with head and neck cancer has not been described.

For the current study, the researchers analysed data from a prospective, longitudinal intervention study of 60 patients with newly diagnosed head and neck cancer undergoing concurrent chemo-radiation, 50% of which were HPV-positive.

They used various tested and verified questionnaires and scales to examine satisfaction, mood, illness perception, and quality of life at baseline and 3 weeks.

HPV-positive patients reported an increase in symptom burden, symptom interference, and depressive symptoms, in addition to more threatening illness perception. There were no differences in anxiety or satisfaction

“Given the symptom burden, illness perception, and depressive symptoms, developing interventions to help patients with HPV positive head and neck cancer in particular is important to help them through their treatment and recovery,” said Dr. Bauman.

The 2016 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium is sponsored by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, and the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer.

[Presentation title: Patient-Reported Outcomes (PROs) in Patients With Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)-Positive Versus Negative Head and Neck Cancer (HNC). Abstract 87]

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