OBJECTIVE:Urban-rural variation in cancer incidence, treatment, and clinical outcomes has been well researched. With the growing numbers and longer lifespan of cancer survivors, quality of life (QOL) is now a critical issue. The present study investigates the QOL of head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors in Ireland, paying special attention to urban and rural variation.METHODS:From the population-based National Cancer Registry Ireland, we identified 991 survivors of HNC (ICD10 C00-C14, C32), who were at least eight months post-diagnosis, and invited them to complete a postal survey. We used self-reported data and information from the Registry to create a composite variable classifying respondents' current area of residence as "urban" or "rural." Respondents self-reported QOL using the Functional Assessment for Cancer Therapy with Head and Neck module (FACT-HN). We used bootstrap linear regression to control for confounding variables, while estimating the association of urban and rural residence to FACT-HN domain scores.RESULTS:We obtained survey and Registry data from 583 HNC survivors. Controlling for demographic and clinical variables, rural survivors reported higher physical (coefficient 1.27, bias-corrected and accelerated 95% confidence interval 0.54, 2.43), emotional (coef. 0.99, 95% CI 0.21, 2.02), and HNC-specific (coef. 1.55, 95% CI 0.32, 3.54) QOL than their urban counterparts. Social and functional QOL did not differ significantly.CONCLUSIONS:These findings add to growing evidence of important differences in life experiences of cancers survivors in urban and rural settings. Results such as these will allow health professionals, policy makers and service providers to better serve these populations.