Computerized monitoring of patient-reported speech and swallowing problems in head and neck cancer patients in clinical practice

Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, VU University Medical Center, PO Box 7057, 1007 MB, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Supportive Care in Cancer (Impact Factor: 2.09). 03/2012; 20(11):2925-31. DOI: 10.1007/s00520-012-1422-y
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The purpose of this study is to evaluate computerized monitoring of speech and swallowing outcomes and its impact on quality of life (QoL) and emotional well-being in head and neck cancer patients in an outpatient clinic.
Sixty-seven patients, treated by single or multimodality treatment, completed the EORTC QLQ-C30 and QLQ-H&N35 questionnaires and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale in an outpatient clinic, using a touch screen computer system (OncoQuest), at baseline (at time of diagnosis) and first follow-up (1 month after end of treatment).
Tumor sites included oral cavity (n = 12), oropharynx (n = 18), hypopharynx (n = 8), and larynx (n = 29). Tumor stage included carcinoma in situ (n = 3), stage I (n = 21), stage II (n = 7), stage III (n = 15), and IV (n = 21). No speech or swallowing problems at baseline or follow-up were noted in 23 % (speech) and 41 % (swallowing) of patients. Twenty-one percent (speech) and 19 % (swallowing) had problems at baseline and returned to normal scores at follow-up, while 16 % (speech) and 19 % (swallowing) had normal scores at baseline and developed problems at follow-up. Forty percent (speech) and 21 % (swallowing) had persistent problems from baseline to follow-up. At baseline, speech problems were significantly related to tumor site and emotional distress. At baseline and follow-up, swallowing problems were significantly related to QoL and emotional distress. At follow-up, speech problems were significantly related to QoL, emotional distress, and swallowing problems.
Monitoring speech and swallowing problems through OncoQuest in an outpatient clinic is feasible. Many patients report speech and swallowing problems, negatively affecting their QoL and emotional well-being.

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