Chewing and swallowing after surgical treatment for oral cancer: Functional evaluation in 196 selected cases

Giovanni Nicoletti, David S. Soutar, Mary S. Jackson, Alan A. Wrench, Gerry Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One hundred ninety-six patients treated for oral cancer between 1992 and 1999 self-scored their speech, chewing, and swallowing using a new self-questionnaire (Functional Intraoral Glasgow Scale) developed at Canniesburn Hospital, Glasgow, to assess the functional efficiency of patients treated for intraoral cancer. The patients were distributed into 12 homogeneous groups, according to the site and size of surgical resection, carefully mapped out on standard diagrams of the oral cavity. The functional outcome for chewing and swallowing was correlated to the site and size of resected tissue, to the reconstruction modality, and to radiotherapy and compared with the speech quality. The general trend is very similar for both chewing and swallowing; the smaller the resections, the better the functional outcome. Chewing was mostly affected by resections of the floor of the mouth, whereas swallowing was mostly affected by demolition of the base of the tongue and of the retromolar trigone. Speech showed a better postoperative recovery than chewing and swallowing. The reconstruction modality did not influence the eventual outcome for either function. Radiotherapy in combination with surgery is a negative functional prognostic factor. A correlation between site and size of excision and functional outcome is presented using color multiple-view diagrams for immediate appreciation to identify positive and negative prognostic factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-338
Number of pages10
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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