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Head Neck. 2000 Aug;22(5):474-82.

Pretreatment swallowing function in patients with head and neck cancer.

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  • 1Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208-3540, USA.



Few objective data characterizing the pretreatment swallow function of patients with head and neck cancer are available.


Pretreatment swallowing function in 352 patients with various lesions was evaluated with videofluoroscopy and compared with control subjects.


Patients had significantly longer oral and pharyngeal transit times, greater amounts of oral and pharyngeal residue, shorter cricopharyngeal opening durations, and lower swallow efficiencies. Swallow function worsened significantly with increased tumor stage, and patients with oral or pharyngeal lesions had worse swallow function than patients with laryngeal lesions. Frequency of complaint of swallow difficulty before treatment was 59%. Patients with lower stage tumors had fewer complaints of swallowing, as did patients with oral cavity lesions.


Despite demonstrating significant differences from control subjects, patients had highly functional swallows before treatment. The tendency for patients not to perceive a swallowing problem is consistent with the highly functional nature of their pretreatment swallow.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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