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Oral Oncol. 2009 Sep;45(9):803-8. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2008.12.010. Epub 2009 Feb 28.

Predictors of swallowing outcome in patients treated with surgery and radiotherapy for advanced oral and oropharyngeal cancer.

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Department of Head and Neck Oncology, University College London Hospital, United Kingdom.


Retaining effective swallowing is a key element when optimising outcomes in the management of head and neck cancer. We report the functional swallowing outcomes for a cohort of 31 individuals with advanced oral and oropharyngeal cancer who underwent free or pedicled flap reconstruction of surgical defects. Swallowing was assessed pre and immediately post surgery and at four months post treatment. Swallowing assessments were related to site, size and volume of defect and composition of flap reconstruction. The effect of radiotherapy on swallowing was assessed among 17 of the 31 individuals who were submitted to radiotherapy after surgery. The proportion of patients on a total oral diet four months post treatment varied significantly by site of defect (Fishers exact test p=0.006), from 100% (7/7) of patients with a lateral defect to only 22% (2/9) of patients with a central defect. The proportion of patients on a total oral diet at the final assessment did not vary by flap reconstruction or radiotherapy.

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