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Swallowing exercises can help patients with head and neck cancer
Date:4/19/2012

Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers have found that targeted swallowing exercises can help alleviate swallowing dysfunction a debilitating side effect in people undergoing chemoradiation therapy (CRT) for head and neck cancer. The study, published in the April issue of Archives of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, a JAMA Network publication, suggests that clinicians should consider giving all patients undergoing CRT an exercise regimen to improve their quality of life after treatment.

"This study provides clear evidence that aggressive swallowing therapy is an important way to improve outcomes after chemoradiation treatment," said Eric Genden, MD, Professor and Chair of Otolaryngology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and renowned expert on the use of minimally invasive robotic surgery to treat head and neck cancer. "Difficulty swallowing is the biggest problem people face after undergoing chemoradiation therapy, with an estimated 20 percent of patients losing their ability to swallow for the rest of their lives."

The Mount Sinai team, led by Dr. Genden and Tamar Kotz, MS, CCC-SLP, conducted a randomized controlled trial of 26 patients with head and neck cancer who were receiving CRT. Half were randomized to the intervention group, performing five targeted swallowing exercises throughout their CRT, and participating in weekly swallowing therapy sessions. The other half were randomized to the control group and conducted no swallowing exercises. They were referred for swallowing treatment after completion of CRT, if needed.

Patients were assessed using two measurement tools: the Functional Oral Intake Scale (FOIS), which measures ability to swallow food, and the Performance Status Scale for Head and Neck Cancer, which includes subscales for Eating in Public, Understandability Of Speech, and Normalcy of Diet. Patients in the intervention group showed significantly better scores on both scales at three and six months
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Contact: Christie Corbett
Christie.Corbett@mountsinai.org
212-241-9200
The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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