Head and neck cancer patients’ perceptions of swallowing following chemoradiotherapy

Patterson, Joanne, McColl, Elaine, Wilson, Janet, Carding, Paul and Rapley, Timothy (2015) Head and neck cancer patients’ perceptions of swallowing following chemoradiotherapy. Supportive Care in Cancer, 23 (12). pp. 3531-3538. ISSN 0941-4355

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00520-015-2715-8


Purpose - The study aims to describe patients’ experiences of swallowing difficulties following (chemo)radiotherapy for head and neck cancer and to explore any changes over time.

Methods - A purposive sample of patients with swallowing difficulties was selected at a range of time points, from 3 to 18 months following treatment. Ethnographic observations of 12 patients were conducted in their own homes, over a mealtime situation. Nine new patients were interviewed about changes to their eating and drinking from pre- to post-treatment. Thematic analysis was used to code and analyse the data.

Results - Patients’ reports of swallowing function were divided into four time zones: pre-treatment, during radiotherapy, early (0–3 months) and late (6–18 months) time points following treatment. The majority reported minimal problems at diagnosis, but marked impairment during and after radiotherapy, without a return to pre-treatment functioning. The focus was on severe physical side effects and changes to food preparation during radiotherapy and in the early phase of recovery. By 6 months, side effects began to subside, but swallowing was still difficult, leading to major changes to family life, socialisation and lifestyle.

Conclusions - Swallowing problems after (chemo)radiotherapy are multi-faceted and highly individualised and restrict lives in the long term. Swallowing ability may improve in time, but does not appear to return to pre-treatment function. Further work is required to find ways of being able to best support patients living with this long-term condition.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Head and neck cancer, Chemoradiotherapy, Swallowing, Qualitative
Subjects: B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2018 14:22
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2019 20:00
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/34687

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