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Psychosocial distress timepoints in head and neck cancer
  1. Divya Sai Vanumu1 and
  2. Hemant Nemade2
  1. 1Paliative Medicine, Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
  2. 2Head and Neck Oncology, Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Divya Sai Vanumu, Palliative Medicine, Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana 500034, India; vdivyasai22{at}

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Globally, head and neck cancer (HNC) rank the 7th most prevalent form of cancer, the 5th most common among men and the 12th most common among women. 57.5% of global HNCs occur in Asia, of which India accounts for 30% of all cancers.1

India holds the unfortunate distinction of having the highest number of patients with oral cavity cancer globally, with 119 992 new cases and 72 616 deaths reported in 2018.

Given the high burden of cancer, ensuring that the treatment journey does not compromise the patient’s quality of life is equally essential. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network characterises psychosocial distress as an unpleasant emotional encounter of a psychological (cognitive, behavioural, emotional) that may interfere with the ability to cope with cancer, its physical symptoms and its treatment. Therefore, holistic cancer care encompasses the evaluation, identification and management of the crucial factors that influence the health and overall welfare of patients (National Comprehensive Cancer Network, p. 6).2

A diagnosis of HNC can have a broad impact on patients’ psychological and social well-being, eliciting a range of conflicting emotions such as fear, anxiety, depression, anger and confusion. Psychosocial challenges can manifest as various events or disruptions in a person’s life, encompassing housing difficulties, financial hardships, positive affect, demoralisation, isolation, caregiver issues, healthcare access and other mental health-related factors like depression, anxiety and adjustment difficulties. Furthermore, psychosocial concerns can extend to physical, mental and occupational health aspects, and their severity can significantly impact the overall well-being …

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  • Contributors DSV contributed to acquisition of data: laboratory or clinical, analysis of data, drafting of article. HN contributed to conception and design of study, drafting of article, critical revision and final approval of manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.