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Open Access Research

Assessment of early and late dysphagia using videofluoroscopy and quality of life questionnaires in patients with head and neck cancer treated with radiation therapy

Eda Yirmibeşoğlu Erkal1*, Doğu Canoğlu1, Ahmet Kaya2, Görkem Aksu1, Binnaz Sarper1, Gür Akansel2, Tülay Meydancı1 and Haldun Şükrü Erkal3

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Radiation Oncology, Kocaeli University Faculty of Medicine, Kocaeli, Turkey

2 Departments of Radiology, Kocaeli University Faculty of Medicine, Kocaeli, Turkey

3 Department of Radiation Oncology, Sakarya University Faculty of Medicine, Sakarya, Turkey

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Radiation Oncology 2014, 9:137  doi:10.1186/1748-717X-9-137

Published: 14 June 2014

Abstract

Backgorund

The aim of this study was to evaluate dysphagia in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) undergoing three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy using objective and subjective tools simultaneously and to associate the clinical correlates of dysphagia with dosimetric parameters.

Methods

Twenty patients were included in the study. The primary tumor and the involved lymph nodes (LN) were treated with 66-70 Gy, the uninvolved LN were treated with 46-50 Gy. Six swallowing structures were identified: the superior pharyngeal constrictor muscle (SPCM), the middle pharyngeal constrictor muscle (MPCM), the inferior pharyngeal constrictor muscle (IPCM), the base of tongue (BOT), the larynx and the proximal esophageal sphincter (PES). Dysphagia was evaluated using videofluoroscopy and European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) QoL questionnaire (QLQ-C30) and supplemental EORTC QoL module for HNC (QLQ-H&N35). The evaluations were performed before treatment, at 3 months and at 6 months following treatment.

Results

On objective evaluation, the Dmax for the larynx and the sub-structures of the PCM were correlated with impaired lingual movement, BOT weakness and proximal esophageal stricture at 3 months, whereas the V65, the V70and the Dmax for the larynx was correlated with BOT weakness and the V65, the V70, the Dmax or the Dmean for the sub-structures of the PCM were correlated with impaired lingual movement, BOT weakness, reduced laryngeal elevation, reduced epiglottic inversion and aspiration at 6 months following treatment. On subjective evaluation, the V60, the Dmax and the Dmean for SPCM were correlated with QoL scores for HNSO at 3 months, whereas the V70 for SPCM were correlated with QoL scores for HNPA and the V60, the V65, the V70, the Dmax and the Dmean for SPCM were correlated with QoL scores for HNSO at 6 months following treatment.

Conclusions

The use of multiple dysphagia-related endpoints to complement eachother rather than to overlap with one another, as well as the use of multiple evaluations over time to represent a scale of early to late findings might provide a better insight in terms of the association of the clinical correlates of dysphagia with the dose-volume data for the dysphagia-related anatomical structures.

Keywords:
Head and neck cancer; Radiation therapy; Dysphagia; Videofluoroscopy; Quality of life