Patients with head and neck cancer may have impairment of some driving skills

September 17, 2007

A preliminary study suggests that patients with cancer in the head and neck region may have inferior performance in some driving skills compared with individuals without the disease, according to a report in the September issue of Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Driving is a complex task that requires adequate cognitive, psychomotor and visuoperceptualmotor functions that work together. These functions can be compromised to a greater or lesser extent in patients with cancer in the head and neck region who have received cancer treatment," the authors write. Side effects from cancer treatment may reduce head and neck mobility and may cause cognitive impairment, pain and psychological distress predisposing patients to greater driving risks.

Hon K. Yuen, Ph.D., O.T.R./L., of the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, and colleagues used a virtual reality driving simulator to evaluate the driving skills of 10 patients with head and neck cancer (average age 56) and 50 members of the community (average age 48). Researchers recorded average speed, average brake reaction time, steering variability (vehicle offset from the center of driving lane in inches), the total number of collisions and the score of the Simulator Driving Performance Scale, which assesses participants' driving behavior and skills including braking properly at intersections, driving within the speed limit, using mirrors properly and staying a safe distance from other vehicles.

The median (midpoint) time between surgery and participation in the study was 26.6 months and the average time between cancer therapy and study participation was 20 months.

The average brake reaction time and steering variability in the patients with cancer group were significantly longer (3,134.92 milliseconds vs. 2,299.8 milliseconds) and larger (271.26 inches vs. 46.45 inches), respectively, than those in the control group. There was not a significant difference between the two groups in average speed (21.8 miles per hour vs. 25.18 miles per hour), total number of collisions (1.1 vs. 1.4) or Simulator Driving Performance Scale scores.

"This pilot study provides preliminary evidence indicating inferior driving performance in a group of patients with cancer in the head and neck region when compared with a community control group," the authors conclude. Further study is needed to investigate specific causes that may contribute to poor driving performance and the consequences this may have on driving in the real world for patients with cancer.
-end-
(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2007;133(9):904-909. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org.)

Editor's Note: This study was supported by a grant from the American Cancer Society. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.