Background: Worldwide, over 500,000 people are diagnosed with head and neck cancer each year, a disease with major impact on life expectancy and quality of life. The purpose of the Netherlands Quality of life and Biomedical Cohort study (NET-QUBIC) is to advance interdisciplinary research that aims to optimize diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care for head and neck cancer patients and their informal caregivers. Methods: Using an extensive assessment protocol (electronic clinical record form, patient reported outcome measures and fieldwork (interviews and physical tests)), clinical data and data on quality of life, demographic and personal factors, psychosocial (depression, anxiety, fatigue, pain, sleep, mental adjustment to cancer, posttraumatic stress), physical (speech, swallowing, oral function, malnutrition, physical fitness, neurocognitive function, sexual function), lifestyle (physical activity, nutrition, smoking, alcohol, drugs), and social factors (social function, social support, work, health care use, and costs) are collected and stored in the data warehouse. A longitudinal biobank is built with tumor tissue, blood and blood components, saliva samples, and oral rinses. An infrastructure for fieldwork and laboratory protocols is established at all participating centers. All patients fill out patient reported outcome measures before treatment and at 3, 6, 12, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months follow-up. The interviews, physical tests and biological sample collection are at baseline and 6, 12, and 24 months follow-up. The protocol for caregivers includes blood sampling and oral rinses at baseline and a tailored list of questionnaires, administered at the same time points as the patients. In total, 739 HNC patients and 262 informal caregivers have been included in 5 out of the 8 HNC centers in the Netherlands. Discussion: By granting access to researchers to the NET-QUBIC data warehouse and biobank, we enable new research lines in clinical (e.g. treatment optimization in elderly patients), biological (e.g. liquid biopsy analysis for relapse detection), health related quality of life (e.g. the impact of toxicity on quality of life), and interrelated research (e.g. health related quality of life in relation to biomarkers and survival).

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BMC Cancer
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Verdonck-De Leeuw, I., Jansen, F., Brakenhoff, R., Langendijk, J., Takes, R., Terhaard, C., … Leemans, R. (2019). Advancing interdisciplinary research in head and neck cancer through a multicenter longitudinal prospective cohort study: The NETherlands QUality of life and BIomedical Cohort (NET-QUBIC) data warehouse and biobank. BMC Cancer, 19(1). doi:10.1186/s12885-019-5866-z