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Dysphagia in patients with non-head and neck cancer

Frowen, Jacqui

Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery: June 2019 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - p 162–167
doi: 10.1097/MOO.0000000000000541
SPEECH THERAPY AND REHABILITATION: Edited by H. Fiona Robinson and Jo Patterson

Purpose of review To review the current evidence on dysphagia in non-head and neck cancer, including its cause, prevalence, impact, management, and areas for future research.

Recent findings Dysphagia is widely recognised as a common and debilitating side-effect of head and neck cancer (HNC) and its treatment; however, minimal attention has been given to dysphagia in other cancer populations. Detailed data regarding the exact nature and prevalence of dysphagia are limited, in part because of the lack of any validated tools specifically for non-HNC patients. Dysphagia can be due to a variety of different causes in cancer patients. It can have a significant impact on physical and psychological wellbeing, and its management can be complex and multifactorial.

Summary Preliminary evidence suggests that the prevalence of dysphagia in non-HNC patients may be high. Cancer patients are vulnerable and survivorship is a key component of cancer care, so further research is essential to better understand the problem and thus provide optimal care and outcomes for patients.

Nutrition and Speech Pathology Department, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Correspondence to Jacqui Frowen, Speech Pathology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Locked Bag 1, A’Beckett Street, Melbourne, Victoria 8006, Australia. Tel: +61 3 8559 5220; e-mail:

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