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Cancer. 1998 Dec 15;83(12):2567-79.

Psychosocial and physical correlates of survival and recurrence in patients with head and neck carcinoma: results of a 6-year longitudinal study.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, University Hospital Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



Studies that have examined correlations between psychosocial factors and survival in cancer patients do not permit any definitive conclusions. To the authors' knowledge, to date no study has examined the relation between medical as well as quality of life variables and survival in head and neck carcinoma patients. The current study focused on the complex interactions among psychosocial, medical, behavioral, and demographic variables as they relate to prognosis in these patients.


A total of 133 consecutive head and neck carcinoma patients were included in a prospective study at pretreatment. In addition to clinical variables, psychosocial and physical functioning was assessed by means of a self-report questionnaire.


During the observation period 57 patients died whereas 76 were still alive at 6 years after treatment. Results of the multivariate survival analysis indicated that patients without head and neck metastasis had a better prognosis than patients with positive cervical lymph nodes. Pretreatment smoking showed a negative correlation with overall survival. Patients who were more physically self-efficacious (i.e., higher perceived physical abilities) were more likely to survive and less likely to develop a recurrence. In addition, patients who expressed intense psychosocial complaints prior to treatment had a better prognosis than had those who did not express such negative feelings.


The current findings linking physical self-efficacy and prognosis are promising, but clinical trials are necessary to examine the direct and indirect mediational pathways of the variables that underlie physical efficacy and influence survival and recurrence. Also, the negative correlation between pretreatment smoking and survival suggests a need for increased efforts to address smoking in newly diagnosed patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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