Proactive Swallowing Rehab Program Helpful in Phalangeal CA

Increase in pretreatment evaluations and in the rate of referral; reduction in feeding tube placement
Increase in pretreatment evaluations and in the rate of referral; reduction in feeding tube placement

HealthDay News — A proactive speech and language pathology (SLP) program is beneficial for patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), according to a study published online April 19 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Guarav S. Ajmani, MHS, from the University of Chicago, and colleagues examined the initiation of a proactive SLP rehabilitation program for patients with HNSCC in 2011. Patients were divided into 2 groups: 2004 to 2010 (before program implementation; 135 patients) and 2011 to 2015 (after program implementation; 119 patients). 

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The researchers found that there was an increase in pretreatment evaluations from 21.5 to 58.8% with the initiation of a proactive SLP program (risk ratio, 2.74) and an increase in the rate of referral overall at any time from 60 to 79.8% (risk ratio, 1.33). A decrease was seen in feeding tube placement rates, from 45.9 to 29.4% (risk ratio, 0.64). Among patients receiving a swallow evaluation, feeding tube requirements were less frequent for those receiving a pretreatment evaluation compared with referral during or after treatment (31% versus 61 and 64%, respectively). There was improvement in the rate of tolerating any oral intake at the end of treatment, from 71.1 to 82.4% (risk ratio, 1.16).

"A proactive SLP program can be successfully established as part of the multidisciplinary care of patients with HNSCC and improve patient quality of life," the authors write.

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