Predictors of speech and swallowing function following primary surgery for oral and oropharyngeal cancer

A. Zuydam, D. Lowe, J.S. Brown, E. Vaughan, Simon Rogers

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    Objectives:  To examine the association between the speech and swallowing aspect of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and selected clinical parameters, and particularly to determine those that are predictive of good outcomes at 1 year after surgery. Design:  Prospective questionnaire and clinical study. Setting:  Regional Maxillofacial Unit. Participants:  A total of 278 consecutive patients undergoing primary surgery for squamous cell carcinoma between 1995 and 1999. HRQOL was assessed using the University of Washington Quality of Life questionnaire (UW-QOL) pre-surgery, and post-surgery at 6 months, 1 year and later (median 39 months). Main outcome measures:  Presentation of results was mainly descriptive, involving percentages and mean scores. Association of clinico-demographic factors with tumour site, and with UW-QOL swallowing and speech after 12 months, was tested with Fisher's exact or chi-squared tests as appropriate and modelled using logistic regression methods. Results:  Univariate relationships were seen between speech and swallowing scores and with tumour size, T staging, radiotherapy, type of surgery (primary closure or free tissue transfer), tumour site, extent of resection of posterior tongue and soft palate, and UW-QOL taste and saliva scores. Multiple logistic regression showed that no radiotherapy (P < 0.001) and primary surgical closure/laser surgery (P = 0.003) were the main predictors of good swallowing, and primary surgical closure/laser surgery was the main predictor of good speech (P < 0.001) at 1 year. Conclusions:  A number of clinical parameters can influence the speech and swallowing aspect of quality of life in these patients and when feasible, primary closure results in a better outcome than free flap reconstruction.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)428-437
    JournalClinical Otolaryngology & Allied Sciences
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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