Emotional Quality of Life After Radiation Therapy for Oropharyngeal Carcinoma

Greeshma Rajeev-Kumar, Jaison Moreno, Amy Kelley, Sonam Sharma, Vishal Gupta, Richard Bakst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Substantial research exists on the physical toxicities from radiation therapy (RT) for oropharyngeal cancers, but emotional quality of life is understudied. The purpose of this study is to map the effects and time course of radiation-related changes in mood and anxiety and to investigate the physical factors that drive these changes. Methods and materials: We prospectively collected University of Washington Quality of Life questionnaires and identified patients with oropharyngeal cancer who were treated with curative-intent RT between 2013 and 2016 and had completed questionnaires within 12 months after RT (n = 69). We analyzed swallow, saliva, taste, chewing, speech, pain, mood, and anxiety scores, using a scale from 0 to 100. We conducted a multivariate regression analysis to identify physical functioning predictors of worse emotional scores. Results: Physical functioning scores declined from before RT to 3 months after RT and then began improving but did not rebound to baseline levels within 12 months. Patient mood slightly declined, but anxiety improved immediately after RT, with both generally improving such that scores were higher at the 12-month follow-up than at initial consult. Analysis showed that longer duration of treatment is associated with a higher likelihood of worse mood scores at 12 months (odds ratio [OR], 1.446; P <.01). Worse swallow score is associated with a greater likelihood of worse mood score at 3 months (OR, 0.971; P <.01) and 12 months (OR, 0.975; P <.01). A worse taste score is associated with a greater likelihood of worse anxiety score at 3 months (OR, 0.979; P <.05) and 12 months (OR, 0.982; P <.05). Conclusions: Emotional changes are associated with certain treatment-associated toxicities. A patient's emotional health is complex and likely multifactorial in nature. Our study identified key associations and time points to potentially intervene upon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-682
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in Radiation Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019


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