Mucositis-Related Morbidity and Resource Utilization in Head and Neck Cancer Patients Receiving Radiation Therapy With or Without Chemotherapy

Academic Article


  • The objective of this study was to estimate health care-resource utilization in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients. This was a prospective, longitudinal, multicenter, noninterventional study of mucositis in patients receiving radiation with or without chemotherapy for HNC. Mouth and throat soreness and functional impairment were measured using the Oral Mucositis Weekly Questionnaire-HNC. Resource utilization data were obtained from patient interviews and recorded from the patient's medical chart. Seventy-five patients were enrolled from six centers. Fifty (67%) patients received concurrent chemoradiation therapy; 34 (45%) received intensity-modulated radiation therapy. Over the course of treatment, 57 (76%) patients reported severe mouth and throat soreness. Pain and functional impairment because of mouth and throat soreness increased during the course of therapy despite the use of opioid analgesics in 64 (85%) of the patients. Complications of radiation therapy resulted in increased patient visits to physicians, nurses, and nutritionists. Thirty-eight (51%) patients had a feeding tube placed. Twenty-eight patients (37%) were hospitalized, five of whom were hospitalized twice; of the 33 admissions, 10 (30%) were designated as secondary to mucositis by their treating physician. Mean length of hospitalization was 4.9 days (range: 1-16). This study demonstrates that mucositis-related pain and functional impairment is associated with increased use of costly health resources. Effective treatments to reduce the pain and functional impairment of oral mucositis are needed in this patient population. © 2009 U.S. Cancer Pain Relief Committee.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Murphy BA; Beaumont JL; Isitt J; Garden AS; Gwede CK; Trotti AM; Meredith RF; Epstein JB; Le QT; Brizel DM
  • Start Page

  • 522
  • End Page

  • 532
  • Volume

  • 38
  • Issue

  • 4