This study aimed to assess the swallowing function of head-and-neck cancer patients before and after radiotherapy.
Materials and Methods: A repeated descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out on 33 head and neck cancers patients treated at Aristide LeDantec Hospital Radiation Therapy Department, Dakar, Senegal. The swallowing function was assessed through a self-assessment questionnaire (DHI) and a functional swallowing test: : Constraints, Oral phase, Laryngeal phase, Pharyngeal phase- Grade of dysphagia- Aspirations (COLP-G-A). Each patient was seen twice: before treatment (T0) and three months after radiotherapy (T).
Results: Patients maximum ages were 18 and 69 years. Persons aged over 60 (39.4%) were predominant. Men have accounted for the majority of the 58% series with a sex ratio of 1.35. Swallowing disorders existed in some patients before radiotherapy (T0). In fact, at this stage, nine people had physical disorders, fourteen functional disorders and twelve emotional disorders all related to swallowing. At time of T, DHI scores in (P) (F) and (E) areas had significantly increased (p = 0.0001 for (P); p = 0.001 for (F); p = 0.004 for (E). Likewise, the COLP-G-A on mineral water, sparkling water, actimel, compote and cake had shown that dysphagia was highly associated with radiotherapy (p ≤ 0.05). These results show that radiotherapy aggravates swallowing disorders.
Conclusion: Oropharyngeal dysphagia is a common symptom in irradiated head and neck cancer patients and compromising their quality of life. Exploring, preventing and relieving swallowing disorders remains a key priority in head and neck cancer care.