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Purpose: Head and neck cancer (HNC) diagnosis and treatment are distressing and have immediate detrimental impacts on functioning and quality of life (QoL). Nevertheless, little is known about long-term psychosocial effects. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and correlates of clinical post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and subclinical post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in HNC patients surviving more than 2 years since treatment and in their partners. Methods: HNC survivors identified from the cancer registry of a London hospital and their partners completed measures of PTSS, depression and anxiety, fear of cancer recurrence, social support, appearance concerns and health-related QoL. Data regarding their clinical and demographic characteristics were also collected. Correlations, as well as linear and logistic regression coefficients, were calculated to estimate associations with PTSS scores. Results: In this analysis of 93 HNC survivors, at a mean of 6 years (SD = 4) after treatment, 33.4% reported PTSS and 11.8% met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fear of cancer recurrence was independently associated with PTSS (p .05). Conclusions: This is the first examination of post-traumatic stress in survivors of HNC and shows that high levels of cancer-related PTSS exist for many years after diagnosis in both patients and their partners.

Original publication




Journal article


Supportive Care in Cancer

Publication Date





3003 - 3011