Changes in swallowing physiology and patient perception of swallowing function following chemoradiation for head and neck cancer

Nicole M. Rogus-Pulia*, Margaret C. Pierce, Bharat B Mittal, Steven G Zecker, Jeri A. Logemann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

Patients treated with chemoradiation for head and neck cancer often report difficulty with swallowing and are frequently diagnosed with dysphagia. The extent to which patient awareness of dysphagia corresponds to observed physiologic changes in swallowing is unclear. The purpose of this study was to determine how both patient awareness of swallowing function and swallowing physiology individually change following chemoradiation and then to clarify the relationship between them. Twenty-one patients with head and neck cancer treated with chemoradiation were assessed before and after treatment and matched with twenty-one control subjects. The modified barium swallow test was utilized to examine swallowing physiology. Each subject was also given a series of items regarding awareness of specific dysphagia symptoms. Results showed decreased swallow efficiencies, higher percentages of residue, and more occurrences of penetration and aspiration following chemoradiation. Patients also had significantly higher ratings for 4 of the 12 items ("dry mouth," "food sticking in my mouth," "need water to help food go down," and "change in sense of taste"). Only one strong and significant correlation was found between ratings for "I have difficulty swallowing" and swallow efficiency values. Based on these findings, it appears that patients sense a general difficulty with swallowing but have less awareness of specific symptoms of dysphagia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-233
Number of pages11
JournalDysphagia
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2014

Keywords

  • Chemoradiation
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition disorders
  • Dysphagia
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Perception
  • Swallow efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Speech and Hearing

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