Fatigue in Patients With Head and Neck Cancer Treated With Radiation Therapy: A Prospective Study of Patient-Reported Outcomes and Their Association With Radiation Dose to the Cerebellum

Edvard Abel, Ewa Silander, Fredrik Nordström, Caroline Olsson, N. Patrik Brodin, Jan Nyman, Thomas Björk-Eriksson, Eva Hammerlid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Although fatigue is a known side effect in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) receiving radiation therapy, knowledge regarding long-term fatigue and dose-response relationships to organs at risk is scarce. The aim of this prospective study was to analyze patient-reported fatigue in patients with HNC receiving radiation therapy and to explore any possible association with organ-at-risk doses. Methods and Materials: Patients with HNC referred for curative radiation therapy were eligible for inclusion in the study. To assess patient-reported fatigue, quality of life questionnaires (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer QLQ-C30 and QLQ-FA12) were distributed before treatment and 1, 3, 6, 12, 24, and 60 months after the start of treatment. Mean dose (Dmean) and near maximum dose (D2%) of the cerebellum and brain stem were evaluated in relation to baseline-adjusted fatigue scores at 3 months. Results: One hundred twenty-six patients treated with intensity modulated radiation therapy between 2008 and 2010 were available for final analysis. Female sex and age <60 years were associated with higher fatigue at baseline, whereas patients also treated with chemotherapy had reduced physical and emotional fatigue at 6 months. Physical fatigue (QLQ-FA12 scale) increased from baseline up to 3 months (29 vs 59; P < .0001) but showed no difference compared with baseline from 1 to 5 years. Emotional fatigue was significantly lower at 5 years compared with baseline (14 vs 28; P < .0001). Patients with cerebellum Dmean > 3.5 Gy had higher mean physical fatigue scores at 3 months (38 vs 27; P = .036). Conclusions: Although there is a significant increase in fatigue scores for patients with HNC up to 1 year after radiation therapy, this study showed a return to baseline levels at 5 years. A possible association was found between physical fatigue and a higher mean dose to the cerebellum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100960
JournalAdvances in Radiation Oncology
Volume7
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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