The effects of Head and Neck Cancer (HNC) on relationship intimacy in adults

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Head and Neck Cancer (HNC) refers to cancers of the mouth, tongue, throat, nose, salivary glands and middle ear (McMillan Cancer Support, 2018). HNCs are commonly (90%) squamous cell carcinomas found in the mouth, nose and throat, with only a small number developing elsewhere (McMillan Cancer Support, 2018). There are over 12,000 newly diagnosed cases each year in the UK and is ranked the 8th most common cancer (Cancer Research UK, 2017).
HNC often involves multi-modality treatment, which can result in patients experiencing facial disfigurement, speech changes and eating and drinking problems at the end of their treatment (Davidson & Williams, 2019). Many patients report feeling embarrassed by their appearance with a sense of loss of oneself, often manifesting itself in social isolation and loneliness (Clarke et al, 2014). It is also common for survivors of HNC to experience body image disturbance leading on to depression and anxiety (Rhoten, 2014).
Using a qualitative approach, this study aims to explore the impact HNC has on relationship intimacy and how nurses can play a pivotal role in supporting patients and their partners through what is often a stressful and life changing event
Original languageEnglish
  • Papadopoulou, Constantina, Supervisor
  • Harkess-Murphy, Eileen, Supervisor
  • Stevens, Elaine, Supervisor
Publication statusUnpublished - 2021


  • head and neck cancer
  • Relationships
  • intimacy
  • Adults
  • psychosexual
  • patient reported outcomes
  • body image


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