DOI: 10.3390/cancers15174371 ISSN:

Swallowing after Oral Oncological Treatment: A Five-Year Prospective Study

Caroline M. Speksnijder, Lucía Ortiz-Comino, Anton F. J. de Haan, Carolina Fernández-Lao, Remco de Bree, Matthias A. W. Merkx
  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

Background: Swallowing rehabilitation in curative treated patients with oral cancer is still a challenge. Different factors may influence these patients’ swallowing function. The aim of this study was to identify factors associated with swallowing function up to 5 years after cancer treatment. Methods: Swallowing duration and frequency of 5 mL water and 15 mL applesauce were measured in 123 patients treated for oral cancer. Mixed model analyses were performed to identify associated factors. Results: Age influenced all measured swallowing outcomes. Assessment moment, gender, tumor location, maximum tongue force, and tactile sensory function of the tongue were associated with both water and applesauce swallowing duration, tumor classification was associated with water swallowing duration, and alcohol consumption was associated with applesauce swallowing duration. Assessment moment, cancer treatment, maximum tongue force, and tactile sensory function of the tongue were associated with water and applesauce swallowing frequency. Conclusion: Patients who are older at diagnosis, women, and patients who regularly consume alcohol before their treatment may have poorer swallow functioning after curative oral cancer treatment. Patients that fit these criteria should have their swallowing evaluated during clinical follow-ups and sent to swallowing therapy when needed. During this therapy, optimizing tongue function needs attention to maintain an optimal swallowing function.

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