J Korean Dysphagia Soc.  2019 Jan;9(1):1-9. 10.0000/jkdps.2019.9.1.1.

Dysphagia in Patients with Tongue Cancer Treated with Surgery

  • 1Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. kyounghyochoi@gmail.com
  • 2Department of Otolaryngology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


To evaluate the swallowing problems after a primary resection in patients with tongue cancer.
Thirty-eight patients with primary tongue cancer, who underwent a glossectomy and had undergone a Video Fluoroscopic Swallowing Study (VFSS) prior to surgery in a university hospital between January 2010 and May 2015, were included retrospectively. The clinical and swallowing features, including the VFSS parameters before and after surgery, were analyzed.
Among the 38 patients, 33 patients were T1 and T2 stage. Thirty-one, six and one patient underwent a partial glossectomy, hemiglossectomy, and total glossectomy, respectively. More than ninety percent of the patients had a selective neck dissection. All the patients were on a regular diet before surgery and showed no penetration or aspiration on the VFSS. Immediately after surgery, 33 patients (87%) had to change to non-oral feeding. At discharge, 8 patients (21%) maintained non-oral feeding, and 30 patients ate a limited diet. In a telephone survey (mean 19 months after surgery), among the 25 survey participants, 24 patients (96%) reported no problems with their regular diet.
In tongue cancer patients with low Tumor-Node-Metastasis (TNM), American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) stages, a primary resection of tongue cancer did not cause statistically significant dysphagia after surgery. Although many patients had to change their diet to limited or non-oral feeding immediately after surgery, almost all patients improved and could eat a regular diet after the long term follow up.


Deglutition disorders; Head and neck neoplasms; Deglutition; Tongue neoplasms
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