3 years ago

Supportive Care Needs of Patients with Head and Neck Cancer Referred to Palliative Medicine

Chen Lin, Stephen Y. Kang, Samantha Donermeyer, Theodoros N. Teknos, Sharla M. Wells-Di Gregorio
Patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) face a unique set of unmet needs. A subset of these patients experience symptom control challenges related to their disease burden and treatments. A multidisciplinary approach involving palliative medicine is underutilized but crucial to identify and address these concerns. There is limited information on palliative integration with head and neck oncology. Case series with planned data collection. Academic quaternary care center. We provide descriptive analyses of patients with HNC, including psychodiagnostic assessment and validated quality-of-life screening, from patients' first encounter at outpatient palliative medicine. HNC (N = 80) contributed the greatest number of palliative referrals (25%) between 2010 and 2012. This cohort was 74% male and 79% Caucasian with a mean age of 53 years (95% CI, 51.1-54.9) and with stage IV disease of the oral cavity (28%) or oropharynx (31%). Sixty-three percent of patients had no evidence of disease. Seventy-five percent had a psychological history based on DSM-IV criteria (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition), and 70% had a history of substance use disorder. The most distressing quality-of-life concerns were pain, housing and financial problems, and xerostomia. Patients with HNC who were referred to palliative medicine are burdened by multiple physical, psychological, substance use, and social challenges. We recommend comprehensive cancer-specific screening, such as the James Supportive Care Screening, to triage patients to appropriate supportive care services. Palliative care is one of many services that these patients may need, and it should be utilized at any point of the disease trajectory rather than reserved for end-of-life care.

Publisher URL: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0194599820912029

DOI: 10.1177/0194599820912029

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