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Laryngectomy rehabilitation in the United Kingdom

Owen, Saraha; Paleri, Vinidhb

Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery: June 2013 - Volume 21 - Issue 3 - p 186–191
doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e328360d836

Purpose of review Organ preservation treatment paradigms have led to profound changes in the management of locally advanced laryngeal cancer. Whereas there has been a reduction in primary total laryngectomies, the proportion of patients needing laryngectomy after failed chemoradiation has increased. These changes have affected the rehabilitation service requirements and outcomes following rehabilitation in this group of patients. It is particularly important to understand the current issues as UK service commissioning and funding arrangements are undergoing significant changes at this time.

Recent findings There is evidence of change to functional outcomes and rehabilitation of communication and swallowing in relation to current treatment protocols for laryngeal cancer. Other factors such as an ageing population in the UK are also affecting outcomes and service delivery. Centralized delivery of head and neck cancer services and speech and language therapy-led practice has resulted in implications on service delivery and training. Surgical voice restoration continues to be the most common method of communication rehabilitation in the UK for laryngectomees.

Summary Laryngectomy rehabilitation has become increasingly complex. Whilst there are some well established guidelines for treatment, these may be out of date and further work is required to evaluate the outcomes and needs of this complex and vulnerable group of patients.

aDepartment of Speech, Language and Swallowing, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust

bOtolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer, Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, UK

Correspondence to Sarah Owen, BSc, MRCSLT, Senior Speech and Language Therapist, Department of Speech, Language and Swallowing, ENT, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals, High Heaton, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE7 7DN, UK. Tel: +44 191 213 7646; e-mail:

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins