The point of pain in head and neck cancer

Paolo Bossi, Raffaele Giusti, Achille Tarsitano, Mario Airoldi, Vitaliana De Sanctis, Orietta Caspiani, Daniela Alterio, Tiziana Tartaro, Salvatore Alfieri, Marco Siano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Head and neck cancer (HNC) can have a devastating impact on patient's lives as both disease and treatment may affect the ability to speak, swallow and breathe. These conditions limit the oral intake of food and drugs, reduce social functioning and impact on patient's quality of life. Up to 80% of patients suffering from HNC have pain due to the spread of the primary tumor, because of consequences of surgery, or by developing oral mucositis, dysphagia or neuropathy as toxic side effects of radiotherapy, chemotherapy or both. All healthcare professionals caring for HNC patients should assess palliative and supportive care needs in initial treatment planning and throughout the disease, with awareness when specialist palliative care expertise is needed. This paper focuses on assessment, characterizations and clinical management of pain in advanced HNC patients undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, also underlining the importance of symptom assessment in HNC survivors and the need of clinical research in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-59
Number of pages9
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Clinical research
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Pain
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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