Dysphagia and Oral Morbidities in Chemoradiation-Treated Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Yoshiaki Ihara, Michael A. Crary, Aarthi Madhavan, David C. Gregorio, Ikjae Im, Sarah E. Ross, Giselle D. Carnaby

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24 Scopus citations


This study prospectively evaluated relationships between oral morbidities and swallowing ability in head/neck cancer patients following chemoradiation therapy (CRT) and at 3 months following CRT. Thirty patients with confirmed head/neck cancer undergoing chemoradiation were assessed with a battery of swallowing measures and measures of oral morbidities related to chemoradiation (xerostomia, mucositis, pain, taste/smell, oral moisture). All measures were completed at baseline (within the first week of CRT), at 6 weeks (end of treatment), and at 3 months following chemoradiation. Descriptive and univariate statistics were used to depict change over time in swallowing and each oral morbidity. Correlation analyses evaluated relationships between swallowing function and oral morbidities at each time point. Most measures demonstrated significant negative change at 6 weeks with incomplete recovery at 3 months. At 6 weeks, mucositis ratings, xerostomia, and retronasal smell intensity demonstrated significant inverse relationships with swallowing function. In addition, oral moisture levels demonstrated significant positive relationships with swallowing function. At 3 months, mucositis ratings maintained a significant, inverse relationship with swallow function. Taste and both orthonasal and retronasal smell intensity ratings demonstrated inverse relationships with measures of swallow function. Swallow functions and oral morbidities deteriorate significantly following CRT with incomplete recovery at 3 months post treatment. Furthermore, different patterns of relationships between swallow function measures and oral morbidities were obtained at the 6-week versus the 3-month assessment point suggesting that different mechanisms may contribute to the development versus the maintenance of dysphagia over the trajectory of treatment in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-748
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Speech and Hearing


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