Distinct Dysphagia Profiles in Patients With Oral Cancer After Surgery

Asha Mathew

Mark B. Lockwood

Alana D. Steffen

Amit Jiwan Tirkey

Simon Pavamani

Crystal L. Patil

Ardith Z. Doorenbos

symptom cluster, dysphagia, head and neck cancer, oral cancer, latent profile analysis
ONF 2023, 50(2), 201-214. DOI: 10.1188/23.ONF.201-214

Objectives: To determine distinct profiles based on symptom severity in patients undergoing surgery for oral cancer and examine whether these profiles differ by participant characteristics.

Sample & Setting: 300 patients who underwent surgery for oral cancer at two outpatient clinics between June and December 2021.

Methods & Variables: Symptoms were assessed using the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory–Head and Neck Cancer Module. Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics were collected. Latent profile analysis was performed.

Results: Five distinct dysphagia profiles were identified, which qualitatively differed regarding co-occurrence patterns of dysphagia, mucus-related symptoms, speech disturbances, and psychoneurologic symptoms. Significant differences were reported in interference to function, number of co-occurring symptoms, time since diagnosis and treatment completion, use of symptom management medications, oral cancer stage and site, and treatment completed.

Implications for Nursing: Identifying distinct dysphagia profiles can improve patient outcomes and help in planning specific nursing interventions to influence nutritional and functional status in oral cancer survivors. Dysphagia and dry mouth can persist beyond one year post-treatment, so follow-up dysphagia assessments are needed.

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