Most (84.7% of those with speaking scores and 63.3% of those with swallowing scores) had no lasting difficulties and were assigned a score of one. Of 160 patients who had both swallowing and speaking scores, 96 had a score of one in each category.
Factors that were associated with worse speaking scores were being female, having a history of smoking, having a tumor in the hypopharynx or in the larynx, or having a tumor that did not respond to the initial dose of chemotherapy.
Factors associated with worse swallowing scores included being older, having poor performance status (a measure of disability) before treatment, and neck dissection, with a trend toward worse scores in those with tumors in the hypopharynx and larynx.
“Because advances in therapy have led to improved survival in these patients, understanding and controlling adverse effects of treatment should continue to be an active area of investigation,” the authors conclude.