For patients with non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) of the face or neck, the greatest deterioration in quality of life (QoL) during the treatment period occurs at the time of diagnosis, researchers report online ahead of print in Journal of Cancer Education (June 4, 2020).
While NMSC has low mortality, it can impose a significant psychological burden on patients. The investigators in this study aimed to examine how QoL in patients with cervicofacial NMSC evolved over the course of their treatment.
They conducted a prospective cohort study with 220 patients who had skin biopsy-confirmed cervicofacial NMSC. Each participant completed the Skin Cancer Index (SCI) questionnaire at the time of diagnosis, and one week, one month, and six months after treatment began. Demographic characteristic data on the patients was also recorded, as well as information on the type of tumour, what treatment the patient received, and the evolution of the skin condition.
At the time of diagnosis, the overall mean SCI score for QoL among the patients was 54.1 (standard deviation [SD] 21.9). For the social appearance component of the index, it was 76.7 (SD 26.2), and for the emotional component, it was 23 (SD 25.1).
Six months after treatment began, the overall mean score was 61 (SD 19.1), for social appearance it was 85 (SD 20.6), and for the emotional component 27.4 (SD 26.6). All the differences were statistically significant (p<0.05).
The authors write: “In comparison with the findings obtained in previous studies, our population obtained lower overall scores in the questionnaires and less improvement during follow-up.”