Treatment Seeking Behavior, Treatment Cost and Quality of Life of Head and Neck Cancer Patients: A Cross-Sectional Analytical Study from South India

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Deputy General Manager, Cankids Kidscan, Delhi, India.

2 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India.

3 Department od Radiotherapy, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India.

4 Department of Community Medicine, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education andamp; Research (JIPMER), Karaikal, Puducherry, India.


Background: Head and neck cancer constitute one-third of all cancers. Due to the complex nature of Head and Neck Cancer treatment, expenditure on cancer treatment are higher and the Quality of Life of patients is also compromised. The objectives of the study were to determine the time taken by patients for seeking care from registered medical practitioners, time to definitive diagnosis and treatment initiation, expenditure incurred, and Quality of Life. Methods: The present study was a cross-sectional descriptive involving outpatient with head and neck cancer reported to the department of radiotherapy, regional cancer center, JIPMER. The quality of life was assessed using validated FACT-Hand N scales. Results: The preferred first contact for seeking care for most was the private sector (52%). The median (IQR) presentation interval, diagnostic interval, and treatment initiation interval were 36.5 (16 - 65.7), 14 (7 - 31.5), and 65.5 (45 - 104) days respectively. The average indirect cost incurred was INR 8424 (4095-16570) in JIPMER, which was spent over an average duration of 240 days. The median (IQR) wage loss by the patients and/or caregivers was INR18000 (5250-61575). The source of expenditure was mainly from their family savings (56%). Functional well-being was severely impaired. The patients with occupation, head of the family, and early stage of cancer had a statistically significant quality of life. Conclusion: The majority of the patients were diagnosed in the regional cancer center, JIPMER although their preferred first point of contact was private practitioners. The average time interval from diagnosis to treatment initiation was more than two months. The expenditure during the treatment was mainly because of indirect cost and wage loss. The functional quality of life was severely impaired for the majority of the cases.


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