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Speech and swallowing rehabilitation of the patient with head and neck cancer

Authors
Jan S Lewin, PhD
Marita S Teng, MD, FACS
Tamar Kotz, MS CCC-SLP
Section Editors
Bruce E Brockstein, MD
Marvin P Fried, MD, FACS
Deputy Editor
Michael E Ross, MD

INTRODUCTION

Patients with head and neck cancer face multiple, often severe psychological and functional problems associated with the diagnosis and treatment of their disease. Rehabilitation and restoration of speech and swallowing are critical to optimize quality of life following treatment. (See "Quality of life in head and neck cancer".)

Functional outcomes depend upon multiple factors, including the site of origin and stage of the cancer, treatment modality, extent of resection, type of reconstruction, and quality of rehabilitation. Anatomical preservation does not necessarily translate into preservation of organ function. Even treatments that permit organ preservation, surgical (eg, laser, robotic) or nonsurgical (eg, radiation therapy alone or in combination with chemotherapy), frequently result in severe functional sequelae [1]. (See "Locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck: Approaches combining chemotherapy and radiation therapy".)

The critical components of speech and swallowing rehabilitation for the patient with head and neck cancer will be reviewed here. Alaryngeal speech restoration is discussed separately. (See "Alaryngeal speech rehabilitation".)

THE INTERDISCIPLINARY TEAM

Patients with head and neck cancer have a variety of speech and swallowing problems. Many factors contribute, including:

Loss of anatomic structure and continuity within the upper aerodigestive tract

                 

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Mon Mar 07 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2016.
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