Speech & Communication

One of the major concerns of Head and Neck Cancer patients is the ability to communicate after treatment.

Surgery can change the shape of the patients mouth; result in loss of all or part of the tongue and/or the voice box. In some cases, a tracheostomy is required, which leaves the patient with a tracheostomy tube inserted in their windpipe to enable them to breathe properly. It is possible to speak with a tube fitted by using a variety of techniques. The National Tracheostomy Safety Project has some great videos and demonstrations to assist patients (http://www.tracheostomy.org.uk/healthcare-staff/vocalisation). We have included links to two specific videos from the site that we think you may find particularly helpful.

An inability to speak normally or, in some cases, not at all, results in a loss of confidence and social isolation. Some patients find difficulty in pronouncing certain words or phrases, others are unable to produce sufficient volume to be heard by others. This creates difficulties in accessing telephone conversations and voice recognition systems.

Speech and language specialists will be able to explain exercises and techniques to enable patients to exercise their elocution skills to improve their communication skills.