Evaluating and Reporting Dysphagia in Trials of Chemoirradiation for Head-and-Neck Cancer

Iris Gluck, Felix Y. Feng, Teresa Lyden, Marc Haxer, Francis Worden, Douglas B. Chepeha, Avraham Eisbruch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Reporting long-term toxicities in trials of chemoirradiation (CRT) of head-and-neck cancer (HNC) has mostly been limited to observer-rated maximal Grades ≥3. We evaluated this reporting approach for dysphagia by assessing patient-reported dysphagia (PRD) and objective swallowing dysfunction through videofluoroscopy (VF) in patients with various grades of maximal observer-reported dysphagia (ORD). Methods and Materials: A total of 62 HNC patients completed quality-of-life questionnaires periodically through 12 months post-CRT. Five PRD items were selected: three dysphagia-specific questions, an Eating-Domain, and "Overall Bother." They underwent VF at 3 and 12 months, and ORD (Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events) scoring every 2 months. We classified patients into four groups (0-3) according to maximal ORD scores documented 3-12 months post-CRT, and assessed PRD and VF summary scores in each group. Results: Differences in ORD scores among the groups were considerable throughout the observation period. In contrast, PRD scores were similar between Groups 2 and 3, and variable in Group 1. VF scores were worse in Group 3 compared with 2 at 3 months but similar at 12 months. In Group 1, PRD and VF scores from 3 through 12 months were close to Groups 2 and 3 if ORD score 1 persisted, but were similar to Group 0 in patients whose ORD scores improved by 12 months. Conclusions: Patients with lower maximal ORD grades, especially if persistent, had similar rates of PRD and objective dysphagia as patients with highest grades. Lower ORD grades should therefore be reported. These findings may have implications for reporting additional toxicities besides dysphagia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727-733
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • CTCAE v3
  • Chemoirradiation
  • Dysphagia
  • Head-and-neck cancer
  • Quality of life
  • Swallowing


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