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The Essentials: Dysphagia and Head and Neck Cancer

presented by Angela Mansolillo, MA/CCC-SLP, BCS-S

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Angela Mansolillo receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.

Non-Financial: Angela Mansolillo has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

MedBridge is committed to accessibility for all of our subscribers. If you are in need of a disability-related accommodation, please contact [email protected]. We will process requests for reasonable accommodation and will provide reasonable accommodations where appropriate, in a prompt and efficient manner.

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Dysphagia is a symptom, not a disease unto itself. Difficulty swallowing can be a symptom of a wide variety of medical diagnoses. The underlying diagnosis is a critical factor to consider when developing a treatment approach. Dysphagia clinicians must guard against a "one-size-fits-all" approach and instead develop an understanding of the causative factors and pathophysiology of swallowing disorders in each disease process.

This course will discuss dysphagia in the setting of head and neck cancer. The characteristics of dysphagia in patients with head and neck cancer will be reviewed in the settings of chemotherapy, radiation, and combined therapies. Specific considerations for assessment of these patients will be discussed, including impacts of pain, mucosal injury, and disuse atrophy. The evidence base for treatment strategies specific to head and neck cancer issues will be examined, with a focus on the importance of exercise, and participants will be provided with an opportunity for problem-solving through case review.

This course is appropriate for dysphagia clinicians working in medical settings, including acute care, outpatient rehabilitation, inpatient rehabilitation, and long-term care.

Meet Your Instructor

Angela Mansolillo, MA/CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Angela Mansolillo, MA/CCC-SLP, BCS-S, is a speech-language pathologist and board-certified specialist in swallowing disorders with more than 25 years of experience. She is currently a senior speech-language pathologist at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she provides evaluation and treatment services for adults and children with dysphagia and is involved in program planning and…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Head and Neck Cancer: What the Dysphagia Clinician Needs to Know

This chapter will provide an overview of head and neck cancers for the dysphagia clinician. The impacts of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and chemoradiation will be discussed to provide the clinician with an understanding of the relationship between swallowing and the head and neck cancer and its treatments.

2. Dysphagia and Head and Neck Cancer

This chapter will describe dysphagia as it manifests in patients with head and neck cancer. Signs and symptoms of dysphagia in cancer patients will be reviewed, and factors specific to assessment of these patients will be discussed, including painful swallow, mucositis, disuse atrophy, and nutritional concerns.

3. Intervention Strategies

This chapter will provide a discussion of the evidence base for management strategies for patients with head and neck cancer. Intervention techniques that have been specifically targeted for these patients will be highlighted, including oral care and comfort, compensatory strategies, and breathing/swallow retraining. The importance of exercise during and after chemoradiation treatments will also be reviewed.

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