Today laryngeal cancer can be cured by means of a variety of treatments (nearly 60% of the patients in an unselected population are still alive after 5 years). Despite the low incidence, this form of cancer can present a significant social problem because the form of treatment can have an impact on the esthetic, functional and emotional aspects affecting the quality of life (QOL). In the present study 690 laryngeal cancer patients treated with 6 different forms of therapy (total laryngectomy, partial laryngectomy, cordectomy, radiotherapy alone, total laryngectomy plus post-operative radiotherapy, partial laryngectomy plus post-operative radiotherapy) were asked to fill out a specific EORTC CORE QOL Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ C-30) as well as a specific head and neck questionnaire. Six multi-item function scales, 3 symptom scales and 6 individual items assessing both symptoms and economic consequences of the disease were evaluated. A total of 517 patients (74.92%) filled out the questionnaire. For each form of therapy the patients were divided by age (under and over 65 years of age). The results indicate that the quality of life is better in those patients who underwent a single form of treatment (i.e. radiotherapy alone, partial laryngectomy, total laryngectomy) than in those who underwent combination treatments (i.e. surgery plus radiotherapy). Moreover, the results were better in the older patients. Quite often laryngeal cancer patients are subject to psychosocial problems although this did not show up in the present study where the patients tended to consider surgery as a liberation. The social-cultural level of the patient has a significant effect on the quality of life as it proved better in those social classes were physical strength is of prime importance as opposed to those dominated by social parameters such as socialization, communication and aesthetics.
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