Effect of an interdisciplinary rehabilitation program on quality of life in patients with head and neck cancer: Review of clinical experience
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BACKGROUND: Patients with head and neck cancer experience complex posttreatment challenges. In a preliminary uncontrolled study, we evaluated the extent to which they can benefit from an interdisciplinary rehabilitation program. METHODS: Twenty-seven patients completed an 8-week nutrition-rehabilitation program. Six-minute walk distance (6MWD), body weight, symptom burden, distress, and quality of life were assessed at baseline and at the end of the program. RESULTS: Patients improved their mean 6MWD by 59 m (effect size = 0.8), and 78% of patients either maintained or increased their body weight. They also reported a clinically meaningful reduction in severity of insomnia, pain, weakness, anorexia, shortness of breath, depression and distress, and improvement in quality of life (effect sizes = 0.6-0.9). However, they reported no change in symptom interference with function. CONCLUSION: An interdisciplinary rehabilitation program may be beneficial to patients with head and neck cancer after treatment, but its effects should be evaluated in a controlled trial.