Vol 26, No 5 (2021)
Research paper
Published online: 2021-04-16

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Change in dysphagia and laryngeal function after radical radiotherapy in laryngo pharyngeal malignancies — a prospective observational study

John M. Mathew1, Ashutosh Mukherji1, Sunil Kumar Saxena2, Niranjan Vijayaraghavan1, Abhilash Menon1, Kombathula Sriharsha1, Malu Rafi3
Rep Pract Oncol Radiother 2021;26(5):655-663.


Background: Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) has the perceived advantage of function preservation by reduction of toxicities in the treatment of laryngo-pharyngeal malignancies.

The aim of the study was to assess changes in dysphagia from baseline (i.e. prior to start of treatment) at three and six months post treatment in patients with laryngo-pharyngeal malignancies treated with radical radiotherapy ± chemotherapy. Functional assessment of other structures involved in swallowing was also studied.

Materials and methods: 40 patients were sampled consecutively. 33 were available for final analysis. Dysphagia, laryngeal edema, xerostomia and voice of patients were assessed at baseline and at three and six months after treatment. Radiation was delivered with simultaneous integrated boost (SIB) using volumetric modulated radiation therapy (VMAT). Concurrent chemotherapy was three weekly cisplatin 100 mg/m2.

Results: Proportion of patients with dysphagia rose significantly from 45.5% before the start of treatment to 57.6% at three months and 60.6% at six months post treatment (p = 0.019). 67% patients received chemotherapy and addition of chemotherapy had a significant correlation with dysphagia (p = 0.05, r = –0.336). Severity of dysphagia at three and six months correlated significantly with the mean dose received by the superior constrictors (p = 0.003, r = 0.508 and p = 0.024, r = 0.391) and oral cavity (p = 0.001, r = 0.558 and p = 0.003, r = 0.501). There was a significant worsening in laryngeal edema at three and six months post treatment (p < 0.01) when compared to the pre-treatment examination findings with 60.6% of patients having grade two edema at six months. Significant fall in the mean spoken fundamental frequency from baseline was seen at 6 months (p = 0.04), mean fall was 21.3 Hz (95% CI: 1.5–41 Hz) with significant increase in roughness of voice post treatment (p = 0.01).

Conclusion: There was progressive worsening in dysphagia, laryngeal edema and voice in laryngo-pharyngeal malignancies post radical radiotherapy ± chemotherapy.

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