20453432Depending on the treatment and treatment-related side effects, the ability to speak or eat may be compromised post-treatment. Working with a speech pathologist may improve a patient’s ability to speak.

Swallowing function can be impaired even several years after the completion of surgery, radiation therapy or chemoradiation therapy. Rehabilitation can include any of the following type of exercises: swallowing maneuvers, such as effortful swallow or Mendelsohn maneuver (prolonged swallow); range of motion exercises (e.g., jaw, tongue); tongue strengthening exercises; and tactile stimulation.

Depending on the changes that occurred to your anatomy post-treatment (e.g., decrease in size of muscles, surgical removal of structures), you may require voice rehabilitation. Between 34 to 70 percent of head and neck cancer survivors will develop a speech impairment. A wide variety of tools can be used as a part of voice rehabilitation. These range from the use of prosthetic devices to help with vocalization to surgical reconstruction.

In addition, pyschosocial rehabilitation should be considered; approximately 20 percent of patients had depression after the completion of therapy for head and neck cancer, and 28 percent had depression approximately 10 years after diagnosis and treatment. If the patient is experiencing anxiety, he or she may want to obtain group therapy or individualized counseling or psychotherapy.

They teach you how to swallow all over again, but in the correct way.Barry W. (palatomaxillary and low grade adenocarcinoma of minor salivary gland cancer survivor)