Quality of Life of Oligometastatic and Polymetastatic Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma Patients

Diako Berzenji*, Maarten C. Dorr, Aniel Sewnaik, Hetty Mast, Marinella P.J. Offerman, Robert J. Baatenburg de Jong, Jose A. Hardillo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review



Evidence suggests that distant metastasis in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma is a spectrum of disease. Previous studies show that oligometastasis has favorable survival compared with polymetastasis. The quality of life of patients with oligometastasis remains unknown. To further solidify the position of oligometastasis as a separate entity, we hypothesized that oligometastatic patients experience better quality of life than polymetastatic patients.


Patients with distant metastasis were stratified into three groups: oligometastasis (≤3 metastatic foci in ≤2 anatomic sites), explosive metastasis (≥4 metastatic foci at one anatomic site), and explosive-disseminating metastasis (spread to ≥3 anatomic sites). Quality of life was assessed every 2 months post distant metastasis diagnosis. 


Between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2021, a total of 161 patients with distant metastasis were identified, with a total of 397 measurements. In this group, 57 (35.4%) patients had oligometastasis, 35 (21.7%) patients had explosive metastasis, and 69 (42.9%) patients had explosive-disseminating metastasis. Their median post-distant metastasis survivals were 8.5 months, 3.2 months, and 3.2 months respectively (p < 0.001). A significantly better overall quality of life was observed in the oligometastasis group compared with the polymetastatic groups (+0.75 out of 7, p < 0.05). Furthermore, oligometastatic patients performed better in the subdomains of “physical functioning,” “fatigue,” and “pain.”. 


Results from this study underscore that subgroups exist regarding quality of life and survival within distant metastasis, with polymetastatic patients performing worse than oligometastatic patients. This highlights the significance of tailored interventions that consider the unique challenges faced by each metastatic group of patients. Level of Evidence: 3, retrospective cohort study Laryngoscope, 2024.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Feb 2024

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. The Laryngoscope published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society, Inc.


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