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UR Medicine / Otolaryngology (ENT) / Speech Pathology / Our Services / Speech & Swallowing Support for Head and Neck Cancer


Speech & Swallowing Support for Head and Neck Cancer

UR Medicine Speech-Language Pathologists at the University of Rochester Medical Center work closely with the team of physicians treating your head and neck cancer. We are located in the Wilmot Cancer Institute, and we coordinate our services with the other services you are receiving in the Cancer Center from the time of your diagnosis through your course of treatment and beyond. Click here to learn more about head and neck cancer support at Wilmot here.

What head and neck cancer patients do you see?

Head and neck cancers typically involve tumors that are found within the mouth, nasopharynx (upper throat and behind the nose), oropharynx (middle of the throat), hypopharynx (lower throat) and larynx (voicebox). Treatments of head and neck cancers present unique challenges for individuals with this diagnosis. Fields of treatment involve neuromuscular systems that are vital for respiration (breathing), voice, articulation, and swallowing. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or some combination of these three treatment modalities will likely have significant functional impacts for our patients.

What services do you provide to patients with head and neck cancer?

Our Speech-Language pathologists have specialty training in evaluating and treating individuals with communication and swallowing impairments resulting from cancer or cancer treatments. Some of the services we provide include:

  • Providing education and counseling regarding effects of surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy on speech, voice, and swallowing function
  • Establishing preventative and rehabilitative voice and swallowing exercise programs
  • Working closely with the multidisciplinary oncology team to ensure patients achieve adequate nutrition and hydration before, during and following cancer treatment
  • Optimizing functional swallowing outcomes before, during and after your cancer treatment
  • Preoperative education and counseling regarding expected anatomic and functional changes to speech, voice, swallowing, and respiration for a variety of head and neck surgical interventions, including total laryngectomy
  • Evaluation and rehabilitation of speech, voice and swallowing in both the acute and outpatient settings
  • Alaryngeal (without a voicebox) voice restoration following total laryngectomy, including management of tracheoesophageal voice prostheses
  • Instrumental evaluation of swallowing with videofluoroscopy and FEES (Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing)

What other services might you refer patients to for complementary treatment of a head and neck cancer?

Additional Head and Neck Cancer Resources: