BACKGROUND. Quality of life (QOL) has been identified as an important outcome in cancer research, yet the most common malignancy among humans, nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC), has been poorly studied in this regard. OBJECTIVE. To determine whether change occurred in the QOL of NMSC patients after surgery using a general, validated dermatology QOL instrument: the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI). METHODS. A prospective study was conducted on 121 consecutive patients referred to a dermatologic Mohs surgery clinic with NMSC of the head and neck. QOL assessment was performed using the DLQI before (n = 121) and after surgical treatment at 4 months (n = 101). RESULTS. QOL scores demonstrated little handicap at initial diagnosis. The total DLQI scores showed little change over time, but an item analysis revealed that 2 of the 10 items demonstrated statistically significant change over time, with QOL improving after treatment-decreased painfulness/itchiness/soreness and less necessity to use concealing clothing. CONCLUSIONS. General dermatology QOL instruments demonstrated minimal handicap at initial diagnosis and little change after treatment of NMSC. Although the associations were modest, improvement in some aspects of well-being after treatment of NMSC was demonstrated. A more disease-specific instrument may be necessary to study this disease process further.
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