Get Help for Speech and Swallowing Difficulties after Head and Neck Cancer
by Mary J. Bacon, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
A diagnosis of head and neck cancer often raises concerns about speech clarity, voice quality, and swallowing ability. The degree to which a person’s speech and swallowing functions are affected varies depending on the type, size, and location of the tumor and the method used to treat it. Some people glide through treatment with little difficulty, while others experience impairment that is more extensive.
Managing Speech and Swallowing Complications Resulting from Head and Neck Cancer
by Jan S. Lewin, PhD
Head and neck cancer often results in significant functional changes in speech, voice, and swallowing. These problems can occur as a result of the disease or of the treatment. It is important to have a thorough and realistic understanding of the functional effects of treatment because the restoration of communication and the ability to swallow may be critical to your treatment decision.
Swallowing Exercises Shown to Preserve Function in People with Head and Neck Cancer Receiving Radiation
A study from UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has found that people with head and neck cancer receiving radiation as part of their treatment were less likely to experience unwanted side effects such as worsening of diet, need for a feeding tube, or narrowing of the throat passage if they complied with a set of prescribed swallowing exercises during therapy.
FDA Approves Nexavar to Treat Type of Thyroid Cancer
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has expanded the approved uses of Nexavar (sorafenib) to treat late-stage (metastatic) differentiated thyroid cancer. The drug’s new use is intended for patients with locally recurrent or metastatic, progressive differentiated thyroid cancer that no longer responds to radioactive iodine treatment.
FDA Approves Cometriq to Treat Rare Type of Thyroid Cancer
The FDA completed review of Cometriq’s application in six months under the agency’s priority review program. This program provides for an expedited six-month review for drugs that may offer major advances in treatment or that provide a treatment when no adequate therapy exists. Cometriq also received orphan-product designation by the FDA because it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition.
Radiotherapy for Head and Neck Cancer
Most types of head and neck cancer start in the cells lining the open cavities of the head and neck, such as the sinuses, nasal cavity, mouth, or throat. Other kinds of head and neck cancer can occur in the salivary glands. These glands produce the fluid, called “saliva” or spit, that keeps your mouth and throat moist.
Understanding Radiotherapy for Head and Neck Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, head and neck cancer accounts for nearly 3 to 5 percent of all cancer in the United States. These types of cancer are more common in men and in people older than age 50. Around 47,560 men and women in this country develop head and neck cancer every year. Tobacco and alcohol use are common risk factors for this cancer.
Most People Can Speak and Swallow After Combination Treatment for Head and Neck Cancer
Most people do not have ongoing speaking or swallowing difficulties following combined chemotherapy and radiation treatment for advanced head or neck cancer, but several factors may be associated with worse outcomes in these functions.