Department of Otolaryngology

Swallowing Therapy

The Swallowing Team at the UPMC Survivorship Clinic is dedicated to help you maintain swallowing function while you are being treated with chemoradiotherapy. We do this by teaching you exercises that will help maintain your range of motion and strength. You may also learn strategies that will help make swallowing safe and easy. The team works closely with a dietician, and together we will coach you about the foods to eat and avoid.

Your program will begin prior to the start of chemoradiotherapy. You will be given exercises for pre-conditioning and a baseline swallow evaluation will be completed. We anticipate that you will notice some changes in swallowing function beginning as early as week 2 and 3 of treatment, but those who eat and exercise, often do better when treatment is over. Our team is here to support you through the process and will work closely with you over the 7 weeks of treatment.

A follow-up appointment is required 1 month following chemoradiotherapy to identify changes in your throat, and to determine what you will need to do to make swallowing even better. Ultimately, the final goal is to get you used to your "new normal" and back to eating and drinking as much as possible.

Patient Resources:

Helpful Vocabulary for Total Laryngectomy

Cleaning & Maintenance of Voice Prostheses

Troubleshooting Procedures for Tracheoesophageal Punctures