European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

, Volume 276, Issue 6, pp 1767–1774 | Cite as

Factors influencing intelligibility and severity of chronic speech disorders of patients treated for oral or oropharyngeal cancer

  • Mathieu BalaguerEmail author
  • Aline Boisguerin
  • Anaïs Galtier
  • Nadège Gaillard
  • Michèle Puech
  • Virginie Woisard
Head & Neck



Oral or oropharyngeal tumors degrade patients’ speech quality because of their location. The treatment of these cancers also affects the functional outcomes, depending on type (surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy), volume resection (according the size of the tumor) or on the anatomical area treated, and the post-treatment delay. The aim of this work is to determine the factors influencing the chronic speech disorders (in terms of intelligibility and severity) of patients treated for an oral or oropharyngeal cancer.


Speech-perceptive assessment was led by a panel of six expert speech therapists, on a task of a description of a picture, presented to 87 patients. Clinical and treatment data were gathered by examining medical files.


Intelligibility and severity scores in our population were 6.06 (interquartile range 4.2–8) and 7.61 (interquartile range 6.8–9.5) on a maximum of 10. After adjusting for age and anatomical region involved, multivariate analysis showed a principal impact of surgery on both intelligibility and severity, while the size of the tumor significantly affected the intelligibility score [− 143; 95% CI (− 2.21, − 0.65)]. These results are consistent with the definitions of intelligibility and severity of speech disorders.


The lack of information on the impact of tumor location, however, requires more work to contribute to reducing impact on the quality of life of patients.


Head and neck cancer Oropharyngeal cancer Oral cavity cancer Speech disorders Intelligibility 



This study was funded by the INCa (Institut National du Cancer – Cancer National Institute) for the C2SI (Carcinologic Speech Severity Index) project (Grant INCa SHS n°2015 − 135).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hôpitaux de Toulouse – Hôpital Larrey, Unité de la Voix et de la Déglutition / CCFToulouse Cedex 9France
  2. 2.IRIT, CNRS, University of ToulouseToulouseFrance
  3. 3.OncopoleToulouseFrance
  4. 4.Octogone-Lordat Interdisciplinary Research Unit (EA 4156)University of Toulouse II-Jean JaurèsToulouseFrance

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