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Article: Volume 41 Number 4 Page 346 - May 2014

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  Dent Update 2014; 41: 346-353

Dental Oncology:  Quality of Life Issues in Head and Neck Cancer

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Abstract: Head and neck cancer (HNC) constitutes approximately 3% of all cancers in the UK, with in excess of 8500 new cases annually. Management of HNC depends on site, extent, histology, previous medical history and patient choice. A multidisciplinary approach is required to optimize patient wellbeing, owing to the significant functional and psychosocial implications that can impact on quality of life. Members of the dental team, to include the general dental practitioner, have a key role in patient care; therefore the dental team should be knowledgeable in the short-term and longer-term implications and how this impacts on quality of life.

Clinical relevance: This article offers the dental team with an overview of how HNC and the various treatments, such as surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, impact upon quality of life, both in the short term and longer term.

Author notes: Cherith J Semple, PhD, BSc(Hons) Nursing, RN Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist − Head and Neck Cancer, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT16 1RH and Simon A Killough, PhD, MFDS, FDS(Rest Dent), Consultant in Restorative Dentistry, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Grosvenor Road, Belfast BT12 6BP.

Objective: To outline the various effects of head and neck cancer on quality of life for this patient group.