Background: The prognosis of patients with incurable head and neck cancer (HNC) is a relevant topic. The mean survival of these patients is 5 months but may vary from weeks to more than 3 years. Discussing the prognosis early in the disease trajectory enables patients to make well-considered end-of-life choices, and contributes to a better quality of life and death. However, physicians often are reluctant to discuss prognosis, partly because of the concern to be inaccurate. This study investigated the accuracy of physicians’ clinical prediction of survival of palliative HNC patients.
Methods: This study was part of a prospective cohort study in a tertiary cancer center. Patients with incurable HNC diagnosed between 2008 and 2011 (n = 191), and their treating physician were included. Analyses were conducted between July 2018 and February 2019. Patients’ survival was clinically predicted by their physician =3 weeks after disclosure of the palliative diagnosis. The clinical prediction of survival in weeks (CPS) was based on physicians’ clinical assessment of the patient during the outpatient visits. More than 25% difference between the actual survival (AS) and the CPS was regarded as a prediction error. In addition, when the difference between the AS and CPS was 2 weeks or less, this was always considered as correct.
Results: In 59% (n = 112) of cases survival was overestimated. These patients lived shorter than predicted by their physician (median AS 6 weeks, median CPS 20 weeks). In 18% (n = 35) of the cases survival was correctly predicted. The remaining 23% was underestimated (median AS 35 weeks, median CPS 20 weeks). Besides the differences in AS and CPS, no other significant differences were found between the three groups. There was worse accuracy when predicting survival closer to death: out of the 66 patients who survived 6 weeks or shorter, survival was correctly predicted in only eight (12%).
Conclusion: Physicians tend to overestimate the survival of palliative HNC patients. This optimism can result in suboptimal use of palliative and end-of-life care. The future development of a prognostic model that provides more accurate estimates, could help physicians with personalized prognostic counseling.
Complex wounds are common complications in hospice and palliative medicine (HPM), especially in patients with aggressive malignancies. Myiasis, or an infestation of maggots, is a rare but significant complication of such wounds. While uncommon in the United States, many HPM patients have multiple risk factors and comorbidities that increase their vulnerability to this condition. Currently, there are no standard diagnostic or treatment guidelines for wound myiasis. In addition, common management strategies may not be easily accessible in HPM settings. We present this case of a patient with malignant squamous cell carcinoma of the neck complicated by myiasis while in hospice, and our experience diagnosing and managing her infestation. We also reflect on special considerations for HPM patients when addressing the physical and psychological symptoms of wound myiasis.
BACKGROUND: The palliative care needs of people with advanced head and neck cancer pose unique complexities due to the impact the illness has on eating, speaking, appearance and breathing. Examining these needs would help provide guidance about developing relevant models of care and identify gaps in research knowledge.
AIM: To identify and map out the palliative care needs and experiences for people with advanced head and neck cancer.
DESIGN: A scoping literature review following the methods described by the Joanna Briggs Institute.
DATA SOURCES: An electronic search of the literature was undertaken in MEDLINE (Ovid), EMBASE and CINAHL covering the years January 1996 to January 2019.
RESULTS: People with advanced head and neck cancer often had palliative care needs but there was variability in the timing and access to relevant services. A high prevalence of interventions, for example hospital admissions were needed even during the last month of life. This was not necessarily negated with early engagement of palliative care. Dissonance between patients and family carers about information needs and decision-making was an additional complexity. Studies tended to be descriptive in nature, and often involved a single centre.
CONCLUSION: This scoping review demonstrates the complexity of care for people with advanced head and neck cancer and the issues related to the current healthcare systems. Focus on appropriate referral criteria, increased integration and coordination of care and robust evaluation of specific care components seems key. Linkage between research and service design delivery across teams, disciplines and care settings seems pertinent.
OBJECTIVES: To report on direct experiences from advanced head and neck cancer patients, family carers and healthcare professionals, and the barriers to integrating specialist palliative care.
METHODS: Using a naturalistic, interpretative approach, within Northwest England, a purposive sample of adult head and neck cancer patients was selected. Their family carers were invited to participate. Healthcare professionals (representing head and neck surgery and specialist nursing; oncology; specialist palliative care; general practice and community nursing) were recruited. All participants underwent face-to-face or telephone interviews. A thematic approach, using a modified version of Colazzi's framework, was used to analyze the data.
RESULTS: Seventeen interviews were conducted (9 patients, 4 joint with family carers and 8 healthcare professionals). Two main barriers were identified by healthcare professionals: "lack of consensus about timing of Specialist Palliative Care engagement" and "high stake decisions with uncertainty about treatment outcome." The main barrier identified by patients and family carers was "lack of preparedness when transitioning from curable to incurable disease." There were 2 overlapping themes from both groups: "uncertainty about meeting psychological needs" and "misconceptions of palliative care."
CONCLUSIONS: Head and neck cancer has a less predictable disease trajectory, where complex decisions are made and treatment outcomes are less certain. Specific focus is needed to define the optimal way to initiate Specialist Palliative Care referrals which may differ from those used for the wider cancer population. Clearer ways to effectively communicate goals of care are required potentially involving collaboration between Specialist Palliative Care and the wider head and neck cancer team.
Background: The five Nordic countries with a population of 27M people form a rather homogenous region in terms of health care. The management of Head and Neck Cancer (HNC) is centralized to the 21 university hospitals in these countries. Our aim was to survey the current status of organization of palliative care for patients with HNC in the Nordic countries as the field is rapidly developing.
Materials and methods: A structured web-based questionnaire was sent to all the Departments of Otorhinolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology managing HNC in the Nordic countries.
Results: All 21 (100%) Nordic university hospitals responded to the survey. A majority (over 90%) of the patients are discussed at diagnosis in a multidisciplinary tumor board (MDT), but the presence of a palliative care specialist is lacking in 95% of these MDT’s. The patients have access to specialized palliative care units (n = 14, 67%), teams (n = 10, 48%), and consultants (n = 4, 19%) in the majority of the hospitals.
Conclusion: The present results show that specialized palliative care services are available at the Nordic university hospitals. A major finding was that the collaboration between head and neck surgeons, oncologists and palliative care specialists is not well structured and the palliative care pathway of patients with HNC is not systematically organized. We suggest that early integrated palliative care needs to be included as an addition to the already existing HNC care pathways in the Nordic countries.
Background: People living with head and neck cancer frequently encounter challenges in their treatment with multimodality therapy and risk of side effects. Ensuring access to and use of interdisciplinary supportive and palliative care is often challenging given the complex needs and unfamiliar treatment experiences.
Objectives: Describe the CARE Clinic Plus ONN Gate Opener as an approach to enhance access to and utilization of interdisciplinary supportive and palliative care for people living with head and neck cancer.
Discussion: The Cancer Appetite and Rehabilitation (CARE) Clinic model offers interdisciplinary supportive and palliative care to patients at risk, including those living with head and neck cancer. The oncology nurse navigator (ONN) serves as gate opener, ensuring that those individuals receive appropriate assessment with personalized education and referrals for timely prehabilitation, rehabilitation, and palliation.
Conclusions: The ONN, as a gate opener for people living with head and neck cancer, offers an innovative approach to elevate the patient experience and improve clinical outcomes through interdisciplinary supportive and palliative care when working in collaboration with the CARE Clinic. Guidance for other centers to adapt our model to meet their patient and family needs concludes our discussion.
Background: pain is a common symptom of head and neck cancers. In some instances, pain may not resolve with conventional modalities and become refractory. Chemical neurolysis is a technique that utilizes chemical neurolytic agents to temporarily denervate a targeted nerve and provide relief in pain-related symptoms. The aim of this investigation was to determine the effectiveness, safety, and predictors of chemical neurolysis procedures for management of refractory head and neck cancer-related pain.
Methods: A retrospective chart review of patients who underwent chemical neurolysis procedure in the regions of head and neck for management of head and neck cancer-related pain was conducted between November 2017 and November 2018. All adult male and female patients who had undergone chemical neurolysis procedure in the head and neck region for management of refractory head and neck related pain, in Orofacial Pain Clinic, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center were included in the investigation.
Results: Among 33 participants enrolled, 72.7% of participants experienced 75% or greater relief in pain at the 1-month follow-up. However, 9.1% reported experiencing an adverse effect following neurolysis. A statistically significant association was found between neurolysis effectiveness and chronicity of pain.
Conclusions: Chemical neurolysis can provide significant relief to patients with refractory head and neck cancer-related pain as an adjunctive therapy. However, it was found to be associated with mild risk of manageable adverse effects. Shorter chronicity of pain was found to be associated with successful outcome.
Background: o randomized controlled trials (RCT) have yet identified the optimal palliative radiotherapy scheme in patients with incurable head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). We conducted RCT to compare two radiation schemes in terms of efficacy, toxicity and quality-of-life (QoL).
Materials and methods: Patients with locally-advanced HNSCC who were ineligible for radical treatment and those with limited metastatic disease were randomly assigned in 1:1 ratio to arm 1 (36 Gy in 6 fractions, twice a week) or arm 2 (50 Gy in 16 fractions, four times a week).
Results: The trial was discontinued early because of slow accrual (34 patients enrolled). Objective response rates were 38.9% and 57.1% for arm 1 and 2 respectively (p = 0.476). The median time to loco-regional progression was not reached. The loco-regional control rates at 1 year was 57.4% and 69.3% in arm 1 and 2 (p = 0.450, HR = 0.56, 95%CI 0.12–2.58). One-year overall survival was 33.3% and 57.1%, with medians of 35.4 and 59.5 weeks, respectively (p = 0.215, HR = 0.55, 95%CI 0.21–1.43). Acute grade =3 toxicity was lower in arm 1 (16.7% versus 57.1%, p = 0.027), with the largest difference in grade 3 mucositis (5.6% versus 42.9%, p = 0.027). However, no significant deterioration in any of the patient-reported QoL-scales was found.
Conclusion: No solid conclusion could be made on this incomplete study which is closed early. Long-course radiotherapy did not show significantly better oncologic outcomes, but was associated with more acute grade 3 mucositis. No meaningful differences in QoL-scores were found. Therefore, the shorter schedule might be carefully advocated. However, this recommendation should be interpreted with great caution because of the inadequate statistical power.
Health care services are being confronted by a daily dilemma of who can receive critical care and who cannot. In a palliative care clinic, this apprehension gets exemplified, as these patients have limited life expectancy. The head and neck region further makes things critical, as it comprises of all the sites through which the SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted. This document strives to define the ways in which the head and neck cancer services can contribute to better patient care in a triage context. Practical steps suggested are protective equipment use, ensuring access to critical drugs (such as opioids), greater use of telemedicine consultations, discussing advance care plans, and embracing the role of a wider community support.
BACKGROUND: We report our experience with Indian patients who received palliative chemotherapy with/without cetuximab for recurrent/metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (R/M SCCHN).
METHODS: Data from 229 R/M SCCHN patients treated with cetuximab and chemotherapy (n = 140) or chemotherapy alone (n = 89) were retrospectively analyzed for response rate (RR), progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and safety.
RESULTS: Patients receiving cetuximab with chemotherapy demonstrated significant increase in RR (77.1% vs 44.9%, P = .0001), PFS (8.1 vs 6.1 months, P = .039), and OS (11.8 vs 8.0 months, P = .002) compared with patients receiving chemotherapy alone. Continuing cetuximab and changing chemotherapy combination (second line and beyond) in fit patients doubled OS (13.5 vs 6.1 months, P = .001). Adverse effects, except skin reactions (more in the cetuximab with chemotherapy group; P = .001), were similar in both groups.
CONCLUSION: Adding cetuximab to chemotherapy improved ORR, PFS, and OS in Indian R/M SCCHN patients, and cetuximab was well tolerated.
Introduction: Head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) is the sixth most common cancer in the world. Almost 2/3rds of patients have recurrent or metastatic (R/M) HNSCC. Treatment options for R/M HNSCC have evolved, with relatively little change in survival. Thus, it is imperative that management decisions must balance efficacy with toxicity and emphasize the importance of maintaining the patient's quality of life (QOL). Areas covered: We cover the various chemotherapeutic options available for R/M HNSCC including single agent chemotherapy, platinum-based doublets and triplet options. The role of cetuximab, immunotherapy and oral metronomic chemotherapy (OMCT) is also reviewed. We discuss the management of patients with platinum-refractory disease. Expert opinion: In all patients with R/M HNSCC, we recommend assessment of extent of disease, patient symptomatology, performance status, affordability and availability of logistic and social support. In patients with PD-L1 CPS =/> 20, pembrolizumab is an option. In patients with PD-L1 CPS < 20, pembrolizumab/cisplatin/5FU or cisplatin/5FU/cetuximab (EXTREME) may be considered based on affordability and availability. Options available that have a lower toxicity and can help to maintain the patient's QOL include; single agent chemotherapy, carboplatin/paclitaxel combination chemotherapy, sequential combination chemotherapy followed by cetuximab, replacing 5FU with docetaxel (TPEx regime) and OMCT.
BACKGROUND: Few studies have addressed the efficacy of palliative radiotherapy (RT) for pediatric osteosarcoma (OS), a disease generally considered to be radioresistant. We describe symptom relief, local control, and toxicity associated with palliative RT among children with OS.
PROCEDURE: Patients diagnosed with OS at age 18 and under and treated with RT for palliation of symptomatic metastases or local recurrence at the primary site from 1997 to 2017 were included. We retrospectively reviewed details of RT, symptom improvement, local control, survival, and toxicity.
RESULTS: Thirty-two courses of palliative RT were given to 20 patients with symptomatic metastatic and/or locally recurrent primary disease. The median equivalent dose in 2 Gy fractions (EQD2) was 40.0 Gy (range, 20.0-60.4). The median number of fractions per course was 15 (range, 5-39). Symptom improvement occurred in 24 (75%) courses of RT at a median time of 15.5 days (range, 3-43). In nine courses (37.5%), symptoms recurred after a median duration of symptom relief of 140 days (range, 1-882). Higher EQD2 correlated with longer duration of response (r = 0.39, P = 0.0003). Imaging revealed local failure in 3 of 14 courses followed with surveillance imaging studies (21.4%). The median time to progression was 12.9 months (range, 4.4-21.8). The median follow-up time following the first course of palliative RT was 17.5 months (range, 1.74-102.24), and median time to overall survival was 19.4 months. Toxicity was mild, with grade 2 toxicity occurring in one course (3.1%).
CONCLUSIONS: RT is an effective method of symptom palliation for patients with recurrent or metastatic OS, with higher delivered dose correlating with longer symptom relief and with little associated toxicity.
Background: There are no universally accepted treatment recommendations for elderly patients with head and neck carcinomas. This study investigated whether radical treatment in elderly patients resulted in better survival compared with palliative treatment.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 724 patients aged > 60 years who underwent treatment for primary head and neck carcinomas at Hamamatsu University Hospital. We evaluated the impact of the following: age, sex, the clinical stage, smoking history, alcohol use history, primary tumor site, performance status, and Osaka Head and Neck Comorbidity Index score on overall survival using a Cox proportional hazards model.
Results: The 5-year overall survival rate was significantly greater for the 646 patients initially treated with radical (curative) therapy than for the 78 patients treated with palliative therapy (p < 0.01). Patients who received palliative treatment in all age groups were more likely to die than were those in the radical treatment group, after controlling for age, sex, and clinical stage of the cancer. Information on the survival status of patients was obtained after a mean follow-up period of 46 months (range 6–205 months).
Conclusions: In the absence of contraindications associated with comorbidities, radical treatment protocols should be recommended for elderly patients with head and neck carcinomas because they confer better survival.
Souvenir de "L’Éneide" de Virgile, ce mélodrame épique se déroule dans une cité d’aujourd’hui. Roch apprend qu’il a un cancer des os en phase terminale et l’annonce à son fils, Énée. La nouvelle métastase rapidement dans l’entourage familial : loin de susciter l’inertie ou l’abattement, cette nouvelle provoque un élan chez ces individus bousculés par la vie. Énée décide d’emmener son père mourir au Portugal. Dans cette odyssée tragicomique en autostop, la mort s’invite au voyage, inévitable et implacable comme le jour succède à la nuit. Entre souvenirs de l’épopée antique et argot contemporain, la langue inventive et rythmée de Fabrice Melquiot dessine un chemin vers les enfers qui croise joie et humour sur sa route.
Création par Arnaud Meunier à la Comédie de Saint-Étienne le 29 janvier 2019, avant une tournée dans toute la France, avec Philippe Torreton.
BACKGROUND: Surgeries performed for metastatic spinal tumor are mostly palliative and are controversial for patients with short life expectancy. We investigated whether palliative posterior spinal stabilization surgery with postoperative multidisciplinary therapy results in improvement of life prognosis and activities of daily living (ADL) in patients with metastatic spinal tumor.
METHODS: The subjects were 55 patients who underwent palliative posterior-only instrumentation surgery for metastatic spinal tumor at our hospital between 2012 and 2015. Postoperative survival, early paralysis improvement, ADL improvement, and rate of discharge to home were examined.
RESULTS: The patients included 37 males and 18 females, and the mean age at the time of surgery was 66.8 years old. The mean Tokuhashi score was 7.1, the mean spinal instability neoplastic score (SINS) was 9.4, and the epidural spinal cord compression scale (ESCCS) was grade 3 in 20 patients (36.3%). The mean Barthel index for ADL was 48.7. The median postoperative survival time determined using the Kaplan-Meier method was 12.0 months (95% confidence interval 2.4-21.5). Regarding improvement of paralysis, the modified Frankel scale was improved by one grade or more or grade E was maintained in 35 patients (63.6%), whereas paralysis aggravated in 2 (3.6%). In surgery, conventional posterior decompression and fixation were applied in 31 patients (56.3%), and minimally invasive spine stabilization was applied in 24 (43.6%). Postoperative chemotherapy was performed in 31 patients (56.3%), radiotherapy was used in 38 (69.0%), and a bone-modifying agent was administered in 39 (70.2%). Regarding ADL, the mean Barthel index improved from 48.5 before surgery to 74.5 after surgery. Thirty-seven patients (67.2%) were discharged to home.
CONCLUSIONS: ADL improved and allowed discharge to home, and postoperative adjuvant therapy could be administered at a high rate in patients who received palliative posterior spinal stabilization surgery. Survival time extended beyond the preoperative life expectancy in many patients. Patients with a metastatic spinal tumor have short life expectancy and paralysis caused by spinal instability and spinal cord compression. However, multidisciplinary therapy including palliative posterior spinal stabilization surgery with reduced invasiveness and postoperative adjuvant therapy are effective in these patients.
Patients with head and neck cancers (HNC) face multiple psychosocial and physical challenges that require multidisciplinary attention and care throughout their disease process. The psychoemotional symptoms may be triggered by cosmetic disfigurement and/or functional deficits related to the cancer itself or cancer-directed treatments. These physical and emotional symptoms can be demoralizing and require acute and long-term professional assistance throughout a patient's lifespan. HNC remains one of the most challenging cancers to treat due to disfigurement, emotional suffering, social isolation, and loss of self-esteem. The emotional and physical symptoms a supportive care team can address are discussed in this chapter.
Background: Conceptual models developed through qualitative research are based on the unique experiences of suffering and individuals' adoptions of each participant. A wide array of problems are faced by head-and-neck cancer (HNC) patients due to disease pathology and treatment modalities which are sufficient to influence the quality of life (QOL). Men possess greater self-acceptance and are better equipped with intrapersonal strength to cope with stress and adequacy compared to women.
Methodology: A qualitative phenomenology study was conducted among seven women suffering from HNC, with the objective to understand their experiences of suffering and to describe the phenomenon. Data were collected by face-to-face, in-depth, open-ended interviews. Data were analyzed using Open Code software (OPC 4.0) by following the steps of Colaizzi process.
Results: The phenomenon that emerged out of the lived experiences of HNC women was "Personified as paragon of suffering.optimistic being of achieving normalcy," with five major themes and 13 subthemes.
Conclusion: The conceptual model developed with the phenomenological approach is very specific to the women suffering from HNC, which will be contributing to develop strategies to improve the QOL of women.
BACKGROUND: Head and neck cancers are attributed to be the most common type of malignancy in the developing countries with most cases presenting in advanced stage. This pilot study was performed to evaluate the effect of an accelerated hypofractionated 4 days schedule (octa shot) in providing palliation to such advanced cases of head and neck cancer.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-two patients with advanced (Stage VIB-IVB) squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck region were enrolled in the study. All these patients were planned for radiotherapy at Cobalt Unit with a fractionation schedule of 3.5 Gy/fraction, 2 fractions/day with 6 h interval between two fractions, for four days (28 Gy/8Fr/4 days). Patients were reviewed at 2 and 4 weeks to assess change in tumor size, any symptomatic relief, or toxicity. The tumor response, dermal, and mucosal toxicities were assessed using WHO criteria.
RESULTS: Median age of these 22 patients (17M male + 5F female) in the study was 59.8 years. After completion of radiotherapy, first response evaluation done at 15th day showed =50% objective response in 14 patients. At 1 month, this response increased to =75% in 16 patients and 50%–75% in three patients. None of the patients had disease progression. Improvement in symptoms was reported with respect to pain and dysphagia by patients subjectively. Only two patients reported Grade III mucositis; remaining patients had mucositis and dermatitis up to Grade II.
CONCLUSION: The study concludes that this "octa shot" is an effective palliative radiotherapy schedule. With a decreased duration of hospital stay, it is also favorable for outpatients.
PURPOSE: To investigate the relationship between patient and tumor characteristics and pain response in patients with metastatic bone disease, and construct and internally validate a clinical prediction model for pain response to guide individualized treatment decision making.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A total of 965 patients with painful bone metastases undergoing palliative radiation therapy at a tertiary referral center between 1999 and 2007 were identified. Pain scores were measured at 1, 2, and 3 months after radiation therapy. Pain response was defined as at least a 2-point decrease on a pain score scale of 0-10, without increase in analgesics, or an analgesic decrease of at least 25% without an increase in pain score. Thirteen candidate predictors were identified from the literature and expert experience. After multiple imputation, final predictors were selected using stepwise regression and collapsed into a prediction model. Model performance was evaluated by calibration and discrimination and corrected for optimism.
RESULTS: Overall 462 patients (47.9%) showed a response. Primary tumor site, performance status, and baseline pain score were predictive for pain response, with a corrected c-statistic of 0.63. The predicted response rates after radiation therapy increased from 37.5% for patients with the highest risk score to 79.8% for patients with the lowest risk score and were in good agreement with the observed response rates.
CONCLUSIONS: A prediction score for pain response after palliative radiation therapy was developed. The model performance was moderate, showing that prediction of pain response is difficult. New biomarkers and predictors may lead to improved identification of the large group of patients who are unlikely to respond and who may benefit from other or innovative treatment options.