Purpose of review
Advanced lung cancer can cause changes to swallowing and communication function. Direct tumour invasion, dyspnoea and deconditioning can all impact on swallowing function and communication. Cancer treatment, if administered, may cause or compound symptoms. In this study, the nature of swallowing and communication difficulties in patients with advanced lung cancer will be discussed, and management options including medical management, speech and language therapy (SLT) intervention, and surgical interventions will be considered.
Advanced lung cancer can result in voice and swallowing difficulties, which can increase symptom burden and significantly impact on quality of life (QOL). There is a growing evidence base to support the use of injection laryngoplasty under local anaesthetic to offer immediate improvement in voice, swallowing and overall QOL.
There is limited literature on the nature and extent of voice and swallowing impairment in patients with lung cancer. Well designed studies with robust and sensitive multidimensional dysphagia and dysphonia assessments are required. Outcome studies examining interventions with clearly defined treatment goals are required. These studies should include both functional and patient-reported outcome measures to develop the evidence base and to ensure that interventions are both timely and appropriate.