Feasibility of tongue strength measurements during (chemo)radiotherapy in head and neck cancer patients

Member of the Belgian Cancer Plan 29_033_Dysphagia Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of tongue strength measures (TSMs) and the influence of bulb location, sex, and self-perceived pain and mucositis in head and neck cancer (HNC) patients during chemoradiotherapy (CRT). Methods: Twenty-six newly diagnosed HNC patients treated with CRT performed anterior and posterior maximal isometric tongue pressures by means of the Iowa Oral Performance Instrument (IOPI). The Oral Mucositis Weekly Questionnaire (OMWQ) and a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) for pain during swallowing were completed weekly from baseline to 1 week post CRT. Results: Feasibility of TSMs during CRT declines significantly from 96 to 100% at baseline to 46% after 6 weeks of CRT. But post-hoc analyses reveal only significant differences in feasibility between baseline and measurements after 4 weeks of treatment. No effect of gender or bulb location was established, but feasibility is influenced by pain and mucositis. Conclusions: Feasibility of TSMs declines during CRT and is influenced by mucositis and pain. For the majority of subjects, TSMs were feasible within the first 4 weeks, which provides a window of scientific and clinical opportunities in this patient population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3417-3423
Number of pages7
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Deglutition
  • Dysphagia
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Mucositis
  • Tongue strength


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