Swallow function and perception of dysphagia in patients with head and neck cancer

Barbara Roa Pauloski*, Alfred W. Rademaker, Jerilyn A. Logemann, Cathy L. Lazarus, Lisa Newman, Annette Hamner, Ellen MacCracken, Joy Gaziano, Linda Stachowiak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Background. The relationship between subjective complaints of dysphagia and objective measures of swallow function in patients with cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, or larynx, treated with radiotherapy ± chemotherapy has not been well documented in the literature. Methods. Swallowing function in 132 patients with various lesions was evaluated using videofluoroscopy and analyzed by patient complaint of dysphagia grouping. Results. Patients with complaints of dysphagia demonstrated significantly worse swallow function as indicated by lower oropharyngeal swallow efficiency (OPSE), longer transit times, larger residues, and more swallows with aspiration. Patients with complaints of dysphagia also tended to take less of their nutrition by mouth and less variety of food consistencies in their diet compared with those without complaint. Conclusions. Patients were able to perceive decrements in their swallowing function as dysphagia and may have limited their oral intake in response to that perception. The ability to accurately perceive swallowing function may be useful for self-monitoring changes in dysphagia status during a course of swallow therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-565
Number of pages11
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002


  • Cancer
  • Dysphagia
  • Perception
  • Radiotherapy
  • Videofluoroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology

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