Swallowing Function After Chemoradiation for Advanced Stage Oropharyngeal Cancer

Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Oregon Health & Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239, USA.
Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery (Impact Factor: 2.02). 04/2006; 134(3):455-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.otohns.2005.10.054
Source: PubMed


Advanced-stage oropharyngeal cancer may be treated either surgically or nonsurgically. We reported previously functional outcomes after surgical resection with free-tissue transfer. In the present study, we evaluated swallowing function after combined chemoradiation for oropharyngeal cancer.
Retrospective review of 30 patients treated at a tertiary academic center for Stage III/IV oropharyngeal cancer with sequential or concurrent chemoradiation from 1994 to 2003.
Inclusion criteria were met by 27 of 30 (90%) patients. Most patients had base of tongue lesions (67%) and Stage IV disease (93%). Gastrostomy was carried out in 22 (82%) patients either before or during treatment. Three months after chemoradiation, 33% (9/27) were consuming all nutrition orally, 22% (6 of 27) were NPO, and 45% (12 of 27) had some oral intake but still required tube feeds. One year after treatment, 53% (10 of 19) had an exclusively oral diet whereas 47% still required tube feeds including 1 patient (5%) who was NPO. In patients without recurrence and follow-up length >1 year, 69% (9 of 13) were consuming all nutrition orally whereas 31% still required gastrostomy tube (G-tube) support. A higher rate of G-tube dependence was observed in patients treated for base of tongue lesions vs tonsil lesions (67% vs 25%, P = 0.049, chi(2) analysis).
At this institution, the short-term (3-4 months) rate of G-tube dependence was similar after surgical and non-surgical treatment of oropharyngeal cancer. One year after chemoradiation, 31% of patients without recurrence still required tube feeds.
These results suggest that organ-preservation protocols do not reduce the prevalence of chronic dysphagia and G-tube dependence after management of oropharyngeal cancer. EBM rating: C-4.

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    • "It is estimated that 10 % of long-term head and neck cancer survivors require permanent enteral nutrition (Machtay et al. 2002). Significant functional impairment after chemoradiation has also been documented (Shilley et al. 2006). However, there is limited information in the literature regarding the long term side effects of radiation therapy to the head and neck area. "

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