In This Article


Evaluation and management of swallowing disorders in head and neck cancer patients present unique challenges to the rehabilitation team. Evaluation of the patient must take into account not only the structure and function of the swallowing mechanism, but also the side effects that the chosen medical interventions will impose. Assessment of unique patient characteristics, including medical history, nutritional status, cultural preferences, coping style, support systems, and communication and cognitive abilities, is crucial in developing a treatment plan that will enhance functional outcomes. Treatment should be designed to improve the safety of oral intake, normalize nutritional status, reduce the complications of the cancer treatment, and enhance the quality of life. Accurate identification and efficient management of swallowing disorders are best accomplished in an interdisciplinary team environment.