J Korean Dysphagia Soc.  2013 Jan;3(1):7-9.

Dysphagia after Oral Cavity and Hypopharyngeal Cancer Surgery

  • 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Kangdong Sacred Heart Hospital, College of Medicine, Hallym University, Seoul, Korea


Dysphagia is an important symptom of head and neck cancer, as well as representing a significant complication of its treatment. Surgical interventions for cancers of the head and neck result in specific anatomic or neurologic insults with site-specific patterns of dysphagia and aspiration. Extirpation of cancers of the oral cavity can create complex swallowing disorders that involve both the oral and pharyngeal stages. Tongue mobility is the most critical component of swallowing initiation and to the subsequent triggering of the pharyngeal stage. In general, resections that preserve neural innervation combined with reconstructions that allow optimal residual tongue movement will result in the best swallowing outcome. Hypopharynx shares a wall with the larynx, and the larynx is therefore usually sacrificed during surgery in the advanced case of hypopharyngeal cancer. The degree of functional deficit following hypopharyngectomy is dependent upon the extent of resection. This article reviews the effect of the various surgical treatment for the oral cavity and hypopharyngeal cancer on the swallowing mechanism.


Oral cavity cancer; Hypopharyngeal cancer; Dysphagia
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