Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Previously Published Works bannerUCLA

Swallow Preservation Exercises during Chemoradiation Therapy Maintains Swallow Function



To evaluate a swallow preservation protocol (SPP) in which patients received swallow therapy before, during, and after radiation treatment and its efficacy in maintaining swallowing function in head and neck cancer patients.


Case series with chart review.


Tertiary care academic medical center.

Subjects and methods

Eighty-five patients who received radiation (RT) or chemoradiation (CRT) participated in the SPP from 2007 to 2012. Subjects were divided into 2 groups: compliant and noncompliant with SPP. At each SPP visit, the diet of each patient was recorded as regular (chewable), puree, liquid, or gastrostomy tube (G-tube) dependent, along with their compliance with the swallow exercises. Patients were stratified by age, gender, tumor stage, type of treatment, radiation dose, diet change, dysguesia, odynophagia, pain, and stenosis. Statistical analysis was performed comparing the 2 compliance groups in regards to swallowing-related outcomes at 1 month after completion of therapy.


Fifty-seven patients were compliant and 28 were noncompliant with SPP during treatment. The compliant group had a higher percentage of patients tolerating a regular diet (54.4% vs 21.4%, P = .008), a lower G-tube dependence (22.8% vs 53.6%, P = .008), and a higher rate of maintaining or improving their diet (54.4% vs 25.0%, P = .025) compared to noncompliant patients.


A swallow preservation protocol appears to help maintain or improve swallow function in head and neck cancer patients undergoing RT or CRT. Patients who are able to comply with swallow exercises are less likely to worsen their diet, receive a G-tube, or develop stenosis.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View