Persons with head and neck cancer (HNC) sometimes face drastic functional problems in breathing, eating, speech production and pain. Also disfigurement can lead to changes in self-image, worsened relationship with the partner and increased social isolation. Determining how to measure functioning in every-day life-situations or quality of life has been a challenging task. Previously available measures often posed issues of reliability, validity, conciseness and/or cross-cultural application. In addition, many tools concentrated on selected aspects of the entire problem. For clinical practice and research it having a practical framework that covers the entire spectrum of disabilities and guides all aspects of rehabilitation would be valuable. To tackle this issue, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the ICF Research Branch, with scientific support from the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Ludwig-Maximilian University (Germany), Merseyside Head and Neck Cancer Centre at University Hospital Aintree (UK), Dept. of Otorhinolaryngology at Leipzig University (Germany), Department of Otolaryngology at University of Minnesota (USA), University of Iowa (USA) and Washington University School of Medicine (USA), initiated a project to develop ICF Core Sets which can serve as minimal standards for the assessment and documentation of functioning and health of persons with HNC in clinical studies, clinical encounters and multi-professional comprehensive assessment.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide and is the second leading cause of cancer death today. Approximately 1 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. However, incidence and mortality rates vary widely in different countries. With advances in the treatment of women with breast cancer, including the combined use of surgical intervention, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, cancer survival rates are now above 50%. However, many survivors of breast cancer will experience physical and psychological sequelae that affect their everyday lives. There are a number of outcome measures which can be used to assess impairment or limitations in selected aspects of functioning (e.g. physical functioning, body image, psychosocial adjustment to illness). However, no systematic framework that covers the spectrum of symptoms and limitations in functioning of women with breast cancer had previously been established. To tackle this issue, the ICF Research Branch and the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the scientific support of Ludwig-Maximilian University (Germany), Braeside Hospital (Australia), New York University School of Medicine (USA), University of Vienna (Austria) and Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University (USA), initiated a project to develop internationally-accepted and evidence-based ICF Core Sets for breast cancer. This project was part of a larger project examining 12 chronic conditions with a high burden of disease.