, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 139-152
Date: 27 Aug 2009

Dysphagia in Head and Neck Cancer Patients Treated with Chemoradiotherapy

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Dysphagia is a very common complaint of head and neck cancer patients and can exist before, during, and after chemoradiotherapy. It leads to nutritional deficiency, weight loss, and prolonged unnatural feeding and also has a major potential risk for aspiration. This has a significant negative impact on the patient’s entire quality of life. Because treatment of dysphagia in this setting is rarely effective, prevention is paramount. Several strategies have been developed to reduce dysphagia. These include swallowing exercises, treatment modification techniques such as intensity-modulated radiotherapy, selective delineation of elective nodes, reducing xerostomia by parotid-sparing radiotherapy, and adding of radioprotectors. However, more research is needed to further decrease the incidence of dysphagia and improve quality of life.