Food Oral Processing in Tongue Cancer


Patients surgically treated for oral cancer are affected by several underestimated deglutition disorders risk factors. This study aims to characterize the level of these food oral processing (FOP) impairments in a group of patients treated by surgery for tongue cancer. Twenty-seven consecutive patients surgically treated for tongue cancer were evaluated concerning their chewing capacity (Mastication-test), and responded to questions concerning their capacity to bite, chew and manipulate food with their tongue, and their quality of life. According to the Mastication-test, 16 patients suffered total FOP incapacities (TI group), characterized by high tumor stage, invasive carcinological surgery and necessity of reconstructive surgery; 12 patients were partially or not impaired (PI/NI-group). Tongue movement score and number of dental units were lower in the TI group than in the PI/NI-group. Subjective FOP criteria were clearly impaired in the TI group and correlated with a poor oral health-related quality of life. One year after surgery, there is a decrease in BMI for TI group patients while the PI group patients had a significant increase in BMI. All patients surgically treated for oral cancer suffered FOP impairments, but not with the same severity. Totally impaired subjects are at higher risk from long-term malnutrition. Functional evaluation of FOP should form part of the post-operative follow-up for all patients suffering from tongue cancer, using a quick combined evaluation of chewing efficiency, oral health quality of life and nutritional status.

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