(HealthDay)—Patients who maintain eating and a regimen of swallowing exercises during treatment for pharyngeal cancers have the highest rate of return to a regular diet following treatment, according to a study published online Sept. 19 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
Katherine A. Hutcheson, Ph.D., from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues retrospectively studied 497 patients treated with definitive radiotherapy (RT) or chemoradiotherapy (CRT) for pharyngeal cancer (458 oropharynx and 39 hypopharynx) between 2002 and 2008.
The researchers found that at the conclusion of RT or CRT, 26 percent of patients had no oral intake, while 74 percent maintained oral intake (34 percent partial and 40 percent full). Swallowing exercises were adhered to by 58 percent of patients (286 of 497). There was an independent association between maintenance of oral intake during RT or CRT and swallowing exercise adherence and better long-term diet after RT or CRT, as well as shorter duration of gastrostomy dependence, when adjusting for tumor and treatment burden.
"The data indicate independent, positive associations of maintenance of oral intake throughout RT or CRT and swallowing exercise adherence with long-term swallowing outcomes," the authors write.
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