Background. Current research demonstrates that swallow function is impaired after treatment with organ-sparing chemoradiotherapy. Few studies, however, have related observed swallowing disorders with the patient's oral intake and diet in a large cohort of patients. Methods. Swallowing function was examined using the modified barium swallow (MBS) procedure in 170 patients treated with radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy for cancer of the head and neck at 5 evaluation points: pretreatment and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months posttreatment. Fisher's exact test was used to examine the relationship between swallow motility disorders and oral intake or diet consistencies. Results. Limitations in oral intake and diet during the first year after cancer treatment were significantly related to reduced laryngeal elevation, reduced cricopharyngeal opening, and rating of nonfunctional swallow on at least 1 swallow of any bolus type. Conclusions. Swallow motility disorders had a significant impact on the eating ability of patients after treatment for head and neck cancer with radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy.
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