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22.06.2019 | Review Article

Deglutition disorders as a consequence of head and neck cancer therapies: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Supportive Care in Cancer
Isabela Porto de Toledo, Leticia Lopes Quirino Pantoja, Karen Fontes Luchesi, Daniele Xavier Assad, Graziela De Luca Canto, Eliete Neves Silva Guerra
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00520-019-04920-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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In this study, we aimed to estimate the frequency of deglutition disorders in patients pre- and post-treatment for head and neck cancer (HNC).


Search strategies were developed for the following databases: LILACS, PubMed, SpeechBITE, LIVIVO, Web of Science, and Scopus. Additionally, the gray literature was searched using Google Scholar, OpenGrey, and ProQuest. Only studies that conducted an evaluation of deglutition before and after cancer treatment and had sufficient quantitative data were included. We conducted a proportion of random effects meta-analysis using R statistical software.


Seventeen studies were included. Aspiration showed a high frequency in the period less than 3 months post-treatment, with 28.6% (total sample = 229). Penetration of fluids above the vocal folds and reduced laryngeal elevation were more frequent in the period less than 6 months post-treatment.


The frequency of deglutition disorders and its complications, such as aspiration, appears to be higher in the immediate to 6-month post-treatment period in patients with HNC. The parameter pharyngeal residue continued to increase through the period analyzed.

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