Quality of Life in a population of head and neck cancer patients treated with radiation therapy at Roswell Park Cancer Institute
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Quality of life (QOL) questionnaires provide valuable information to the physician that can be used in their clinical assessment of the oncological patient. In the setting of head and neck cancer (HNC) where definitive treatment is often highly toxic, QOL assessments provide an efficient way to track side effects. The purpose of this thesis was to design methodology supporting the use of QOL surveys as real-time clinical tracking tools and using these surveys to evaluate the HNC QOL profile in a population of patients treated at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). QOL surveys were developed using the Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) platform, a secure web-based application for database and survey building and management. Survey results were provided to clinicians during the patient appointment in graphical form. We were able to demonstrate that QOL surveys in this format facilitate patient-physician communication, symptom management, and represent a unique real-time monitoring tool. In addition, use of this survey helped to identify long-term side effects of treatment and to identify sub-populations of HNC patients experiencing the greatest QOL impact such as unmarried individuals, smokers, and individuals with a large radiation therapy treatment field. Tracking QOL longitudinally, as HNC patients move through treatment, could effectively manage treatment impact symptoms thus preventing deterioration in QOL and minimizing the impact of long-term side effects.