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Swallowing exercises preserve function in head and neck cancer patients receiving radiation
Date:9/4/2013

A study at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has found that head and neck cancer patients receiving radiation as part of their treatment were less likely to need a feeding tube or suffer unwanted side effects such as worsening of diet or narrowing of the throat passage if they performed a set of prescribed swallowing exercises called a "swallow preservation protocol" during therapy.

The study, conducted from 2007 to 2012, was led by Dr. Marilene Wang, a member of the Jonsson Cancer Center and professor-in-residence in the department of head and neck surgery at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine. The study was published online by the journal OtolaryngologyHead and Neck Surgery, and will appear later in the journal's print edition.

Surgery and radiation have been the traditional treatments for head and neck cancer, but with the advent of improved and targeted chemotherapy, many types of this disease are treated with chemotherapy and radiation, (chemoradiation) in the hope of preserving the tissue and structure. But, even when tissue and structure are preserved, patients do not always retain their ability to swallow naturally and normally.

Most patients who receive chemoradiation have significant side effects during treatment and for a long time after recovery. Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) is one of the most common unwanted side effects of radiation and chemoradiation, and is one of the main predictors of diminished quality of life for the patient after treatment.

Wang's study was designed to evaluate the swallow preservation protocol, in which patients had swallow therapy before, during and after radiation treatment. The protocol's effectiveness was measured by patients' continued ability to swallow and how that affected their diets, whether they needed a feeding tube, and whether they developed narrowing of the throat (stenosis). The same attributes were also measured for a group of patients
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Contact: Shaun Mason
smason@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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