Nutritional challenges in head and neck cancer

Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci. 2004 Aug;29(4):307-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2273.2004.00850.x.


In head and neck cancer patients malnutrition impacts on quality of life, complications of therapy and also prognosis, in part via altered immunity. Dysphagia assessment is extremely valuable but more work is needed to optimize the rehabilitation of the incompetent swallow in this particular patient group. Proper nutritional assessment is mandatory pre-/peri-/post-treatment. The range and palatability of nutritional supplements has greatly increased over the past few years. Many of the early problems of percutaneous gastrostomy feeding have been addressed but complication rates still remain high. As accelerated radiotherapy and chemoradiation techniques become more widely advocated, nutrition is likely to become increasingly important. The authorship includes two otolaryngologists, a nutritionist and a speech and language therapist with an interest in head and neck dysphagia, thereby aiming to provide a broad perspective of these issues. However, there appears to be a lack of prospective evaluation of many aspects of dysphagia/nutrition in head and neck cancer, which needs to be addressed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Deglutition Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Enteral Nutrition
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / complications*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition / etiology*
  • Malnutrition / physiopathology
  • Malnutrition / psychology
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life*