Surgery for Lung Cancer and the Consequences for the Swallow Lung cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers across Northern America and Europe. Treatment options offered are dependent on the type of cancer, the location of the tumor, the staging, and the overall health of the person. When surgery for lung cancer is offered, difficulty swallowing is a ... Article
Article  |   November 30, 2016
Surgery for Lung Cancer and the Consequences for the Swallow
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Pippa Hales
    Department of Speech and Language Therapy, Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Corinne Mossey-Gaston
    Department of Speech and Language Therapy, Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Disclosures
    Disclosures ×
  • Financial: Pippa Hales has no relevant financial interests to disclose. Corinne Mossey-Gaston has no relevant financial interests to disclose.
    Financial: Pippa Hales has no relevant financial interests to disclose. Corinne Mossey-Gaston has no relevant financial interests to disclose.×
  • Nonfinancial: Pippa Hales has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose. Corrine Mossey-Gaston has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose.
    Nonfinancial: Pippa Hales has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose. Corrine Mossey-Gaston has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose.×
Article Information
Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Part 4
Article   |   November 30, 2016
Surgery for Lung Cancer and the Consequences for the Swallow
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, November 2016, Vol. 1, 162-168. doi:10.1044/persp1.SIG13.162
History: Received April 17, 2016 , Revised June 20, 2016 , Accepted July 7, 2017
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, November 2016, Vol. 1, 162-168. doi:10.1044/persp1.SIG13.162
History: Received April 17, 2016; Revised June 20, 2016; Accepted July 7, 2017

Lung cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers across Northern America and Europe. Treatment options offered are dependent on the type of cancer, the location of the tumor, the staging, and the overall health of the person. When surgery for lung cancer is offered, difficulty swallowing is a potential complication that can have several influencing factors.

Surgical interaction with the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) can lead to unilateral vocal cord palsy, altering swallow function and safety. Understanding whether the RLN has been preserved, damaged, or sacrificed is integral to understanding the effect on the swallow and the subsequent treatment options available. There is also the risk of post-surgical reduction of physiological reserve, which can reduce the strength and function of the swallow in addition to any surgery specific complications. As lung cancer has a limited prognosis, the clinician must also factor in the palliative phase, as this can further increase the burden of an already compromised swallow.

By understanding the surgery and the implications this may have for the swallow, there is the potential to reduce the impact of post-surgical complications and so improve quality of life (QOL) for people with lung cancer.

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