Fundamentals for the Speech-Language Pathologist Working With Head and Neck Cancer The growing number of patients with head and neck cancer suggests that more speech-language pathologists (SLPs) will be called upon to evaluate and treat patients with cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (UADT). Nearly 40,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2005 ... Article
Article  |   June 01, 2006
Fundamentals for the Speech-Language Pathologist Working With Head and Neck Cancer
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Katie Dietrich-Burns
    Head and Neck Rehabilitation Center, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Baltimore, MD
  • Barbara Messing
    Head and Neck Rehabilitation Center, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Baltimore, MD
  • Stephanie Farrell
    Head and Neck Rehabilitation Center, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Baltimore, MD
  • Milton J. Dance, Jr.
    Head and Neck Rehabilitation Center, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Baltimore, MD
Article Information
Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Special Populations / Articles
Article   |   June 01, 2006
Fundamentals for the Speech-Language Pathologist Working With Head and Neck Cancer
SIG 13 Perspectives on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia), June 2006, Vol. 15, 3-9. doi:10.1044/sasd15.2.3
SIG 13 Perspectives on Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders (Dysphagia), June 2006, Vol. 15, 3-9. doi:10.1044/sasd15.2.3
The growing number of patients with head and neck cancer suggests that more speech-language pathologists (SLPs) will be called upon to evaluate and treat patients with cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (UADT). Nearly 40,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2005 (National Cancer Institute [NIH], n.d.). While head and neck cancer accounts for only 3-5% of all malignant disease, there is evidence that this number is growing (NIH).
The breadth of questions raised by referrals may be daunting to the clinician with limited experience caring for patients with head and neck cancer. Questions may vary from “What is the purpose of evaluating the patient before surgery?” to “How will the combination of radiation therapy and surgery alter that patient’s function?” Working with the head and neck team, the SLP is able to gather information needed to assess the patient, identifying acute and chronic changes in speech and swallowing function.
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