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Head and Neck Cancer: Swallowing Basics

People who receive treatment for head and neck cancer can have difficulty swallowing at different points in time of their cancer treatment. The causes of swallowing difficulty can be complex and related to multiple factors: tumor growth resulting in injury to normal tissue, surgery-induced damage to the oral and/or pharyngeal (throat) muscles, and/or excessive scarring from radiation.

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A Walk Through the Fire: A Resource for HNC Patients

The Head and Neck Cancer Living Foundation out of Kansas City put together a 15-minute documentary describing the journeys of six head and neck cancer survivors from diagnosis through the aftermath of the treatments.

The HNC Living Foundation funded this video to help compassionate people understand the devastation and intensity of the process and to draw donations to help those who have no insurance, are under-insured or who’s insurance simply runs out. The costs of living after the treatment can break a person financially and emotionally.

Watch this video: https://vimeo.com/212089320



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Your Cancer Game Plan

Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly is sharing his personal experience as part of “Your Cancer Game Plan.” This new awareness campaign focuses on tackling the emotional, nutritional and communication needs of those facing cancer. To help address these challenges the campaign aims to provide support and resources, including Kelly’s video on how to remain positive along with healthy recipes for those with head and neck cancer.  Jim’s hope in sharing his experience is to inspire others to act and know their game plan.

Your Cancer Game Plan is a collaboration between U.S. and International industry and patient advocacy groups. Click here for further information.



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Xerostomia = Dry Mouth

Byline: Jennifer Kurtz is a Speech Language Pathologist and stage IV oral cancer survivor practicing at Overlake Medical Center near Seattle, Washington. Her experience has given her an unexpected, yet unique, perspective on the clinician’s role in the management of the Head & Neck Cancer population and has motivated her to advocate for aggressive, collaborative, multi-disciplinary care of all patients across a broad continuum.


Xerostomia describes the subjective sensation of oral dryness and is commonly called “dry mouth.” The typical causes of dry mouth include medications, radiotherapy to the head and neck for cancer treatment, and systemic diseases.

mouth

Xerostomia can have a profound, negative impact on quality of life. The lack of salivary production impacts the ability to eat, sleep, speak, and swallow (Lew & Smith, 2007). Adequate salivary flow allows us to speak clearly without our lips sticking to our teeth and to mix saliva with food when we chew to enable easy transfer through the oral cavity as we swallow. Inadequate salivary function can create a number of complications such as: continue reading →



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A Newfound Meaning to Life

Byline: Steve Clark from Camp Verde, AZ

In the years since I was first diagnosed with head and neck cancer I have come to one realization. There is no such thing as a “typical” case. So many delicate and complex systems pass through that part of the anatomy that every survivor tells a different story. This is mine. Glean from it what you will. I hope that it may be of help to someone. continue reading →



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HPV: Changing the Face of Head & Neck Cancer

Written by Karen Sheffler, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S of www.SwallowStudy.com (revised Feb 29, 2016). Reposted on the NFOSD website with the author’s permission. See Karen’s Biography at the end of this article.

HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer is changing the face of head and neck cancer.

“How did I get tonsillar cancer? I don’t smoke or drink!”

Young people who do not smoke do NOT get cancer, right?

Wrong.

We need to have the talk — about sex and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). continue reading →