Speech and voice outcomes in oropharyngeal cancer and evaluation of the University of Washington Quality of Life speech domain
Thomas, L. H, Jones, T. M, Tandon, S., Carding, P. N, Lowe, D. G & Rogers, S. (2009). Speech and voice outcomes in oropharyngeal cancer and evaluation of the University of Washington Quality of Life speech domain. Clinical Otolaryngology,34(1), 34-42. United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishers Inc. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-4486.2008.01830.x
Background: Radical treatment of oropharyngeal cancer can have significant impact on speech & voice outcomes. Aims: (i) To assess the extent of speech & voice handicap in disease-free survivors of oropharyngeal squamous cell cancer. (ii) To assess the validity of the speech domain of UWQOL as a screening tool. (iii) To identify clinical characteristics associated with worse speech/voice outcome. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: University Hospital Aintree, a university teaching hospital and tertiary referral centre. Patients: All who were treated for oropharyngeal cancer between 1 January 1999 and 31 May 2005, were alive, disease free and willing to participate. Interventions: Three patient-based questionnaires: University of Washington Quality of Life (UWQOL), voice handicap index (VHI) and voice related quality of life (VRQOL). Three expert-based assessments: GRBAS rating, speech intelligibility and dysarthria rating. Results: Sixty-six per cent of patients participated. Median VHI score (29) & VRQOL score (15) imply mild to moderate voice impairment. 20% of patients had severe handicap (VHI score > 60). Forty-eight per cent had normal voice ratings. Speech was normal in 26%, mildly impaired in 62% and significantly impaired in 12% patients (UWQOL). Correlation between UW-QOL speech domain with speech intelligibility rating was 0.52 (P < 0.001). There were clear demarcations between UW-QOL scores of 30, 70 and 100 on the voice questionnaires. Adverse speech and voice function were associated with tumour stage, radiotherapy (RT) & free-flap surgery. Conclusions: Voice & speech impairment is prevalent in > 70% of oropharyngeal cancer patients. There is moderate correlation between UWQOL speech domain and speech intelligibility assessment & voice tools making it a quick and easy screening instrument. The main clinical correlates associated with adverse patient and observer rated speech and voice outcomes were tumour stage, RT and free-flap reconstruction.
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