, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 303–320 | Cite as

Oropharyngeal Dysphagia Evaluation Tools in Adults with Solid Malignancies Outside the Head and Neck and Upper GI Tract: A Systematic Review

  • Ciarán Kenny
  • Órla Gilheaney
  • Declan Walsh
  • Julie Regan
Review Article


Dysphagia is often associated with head and neck and upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract cancers. Evidence suggests that those with solid malignancies in other primary sites may also have swallowing difficulties. Timely and accurate identification of dysphagia is important given the impact it has on hydration, medical treatment, nutrition, prognosis, and quality of life. A systematic review was conducted to identify swallow screening, evaluation, and quality of life tools for those with solid malignancies outside the head and neck and upper GI tract. Ten electronic databases, one journal and two published conference proceedings were searched. Following deduplication, 7435 studies were examined for relevance. No tools were validated solely in this cancer population, though some included this group in larger cohorts. Comments are provided on the diagnostic properties and applicability of these tools. In the absence of appropriate diagnostic instruments, the exact prevalence of dysphagia and its impact on clinical and psychosocial well-being remain unknown. Accurate and adequate measurement of therapeutic intervention is also compromised. This review establishes the need for validated dysphagia evaluation tools for this clinical population.


Assessment Cancer Deglutition disorders Dysphagia Neoplasms Quality of life Swallow screening 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of Mr. Greg Sheaf (librarian, Trinity College Dublin) for his advice on database selection and search strategies.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Academic Department of Palliative MedicineOur Lady’s Hospice & Care ServicesDublin 6WIreland
  2. 2.School of MedicineTrinity College DublinDublin 2Ireland
  3. 3.Department of Clinical Speech and Language StudiesTrinity College DublinDublin 2Ireland
  4. 4.School of Medicine & Medical ScienceUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland

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