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Oral, Head, Neck & Thyroid Cancers Information

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Pain, Dry Mouth Play Role in Sleep Quality of Head and Neck Cancer Patients

by Jeffrey Terrell, MD, and Sonia Duffy, PhD, RN

Head and neck cancer patients who reported poor sleep quality one year after diagnosis had more symptoms of chronic pain and complaints of dry mouth related to radiation treatments, according to a recent study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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Head and Neck Radiation Treatment and Your Mouth

While head and neck radiation helps treat cancer, it can also cause other things to happen in your mouth called side effects. Some of these problems could cause you to delay or stop treatment. This information will tell you ways to help prevent mouth problems so you’ll get the most from your cancer treatment. To help prevent serious problems, see a dentist at least 2 weeks before starting radiation.

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