Swallowing outcomes in patients with oropharyngeal cancer undergoing organ-preservation treatment

Heather M. Starmer, Donna Tippett, Kimberly Webster, Harry Quon, Bronwyn Jones, Sarah Hardy, Christine G. Gourin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background. The purpose of this study was to assess swallowing outcomes in a cohort of patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) undergoing nonoperative treatment. Methods. We conducted a retrospective study of patients who completed videofluoroscopic swallowing studies (VFSS) after nonoperative treatment of oropharyngeal SCC. All patients received intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) ± chemotherapy. Swallowing abnormalities were recorded and the Penetration Aspiration Scale (PAS) quantified airway infiltration. Results. Posttreatment VFSS (n = 71) occurred at an average of 4.69 months posttreatment. Abnormal PAS was noted in 45% of swallow studies. Swallowing decompensations included reduced pharyngeal constriction (75%), epiglottic tilt (70%), cricopharyngeal opening (42%), and hyoid excursion (42%). The only variable independently associated with abnormal PAS was pretreatment swallowing difficulty (odds ratio [OR] = 4.02; p = .009). Conclusion. This study demonstrates that patients undergoing nonsurgical treatment for oropharyngeal SCC are at risk for posttreatment dysphagia. This suggests a need for dysphagia evaluation/management and refinement of interventions to minimize dysphagia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1392-1397
Number of pages6
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Chemoradiation
  • Dysphagia
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Swallowing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


Dive into the research topics of 'Swallowing outcomes in patients with oropharyngeal cancer undergoing organ-preservation treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this