Author | Laura A. Colangelo, MS

Articles

Speech and Swallowing Rehabilitation for Head and Neck Cancer Patients

May 01, 1997

Head and neck cancer and its treatment frequently cause changes in both speech and swallowing, which affect the patient's quality of life and ability to function in society. The exact nature and severity of the post-treatment changes depend on the location of the tumor, the choice of treatment, and the availability and use of speech and swallowing therapy during the first 3 months after treatment. This paper reviews the literature on speech and swallowing problems in various types of treated head and neck cancer patients. Effective swallowing rehabilitation depends on the inclusion of a video-fluorographic assessment of the patient's oropharyngeal swallow in the post-treatment evaluation. Pilot data support the use of range of motion (ROM) exercises for the jaw, tongue, lips, and larynx in the first 3 months after oral or oropharyngeal ablative surgical procedures, as patients who perform ROM exercises on a regular basis exhibit significantly greater improvement in global measures of both speech and swallowing, as compared with patients who do not do these exercises. [ONCOLOGY 11(5):651-659, 1997]