Dr. Kraus and his colleagues emphasized that the reliability of the tests is highly dependent on the clinicians who perform and interpret them.
Explore This IssueFebruary 2009
Specific Issues for Otolaryngologists Managing Head and Neck Cancer Patients
According to Dr. Burkhead, an important issue that otolaryngologists need to recognize and weigh when treating patients with head and neck cancer is the growing trend to treat patients with radiation with or without chemotherapy to avoid surgery and preserve organs. While these regimens seem to hold promise, fatality due to aspiration in those undergoing nonoperative treatment is not uncommon and has been identified as the most life-threatening complication in these patients, she said.
Acknowledging that physicians struggle with balancing tumor ablation with quality of life, and that the primary goal of cancer treatment is survival, Dr. Burkhead emphasized the need to recognize quality of life issues in these patients. Those with tumors in the upper aerodigestive tract are particularly vulnerable to also experience depression, anxiety, social isolation, as well as adverse health risks associated with dysphagia, she said. It is clear that the need for effective intervention to address swallowing disability is great not only for head and neck cancer patients’ quality of life but also for improved survival.
©2009 The Triological Society