Speech Language Therapy

Speech language therapy

Depending on the cancer and /or treatments some patients may notice changes to their voice, speech and ability to swallow. Our speech language therapist will work with patients to minimize these changes.

What is a speech-language therapist?
A speech-language therapist is a specialist in managing communication (speech, voice, and language) and swallowing disorders.

Why might I need to see a speech-language therapist?
 During chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy you may experience the following difficulties:

  • Difficulty swallowing due to the location and size of the cancer
  • Inflammation/pain n the mouth or throat caused by treatment.
  • Pain when swallowing (odyndophagia)
  • Dry mouth and thick saliva due to changes in your saliva production
  • Reduced mouth opening (trismus)
  • Loss of taste and smell changes
  • Voice changes

 If you have had surgery to structures of your mouth, you may also have changes in your speech.

When will I see the speech-language therapist?
If your oncologist suspects you will have speech, voice or swallowing changes due to your treatment, you will often see the SLT prior to chemotherapy/radiation therapy commencing. The SLT will ask you what you can eat/drink now, provide you with information about what to expect with regards to your speech, swallow and voice, and also provide preventative exercises to reduce the effects of the chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy on the muscles/structures of swallowing and vocal production.The speech-language therapist will be available throughout your treatment to support you and your carers/family, provide suggestions on how to eat and drink safely to maintain your fluid and nutritional needs, and to provide therapy.

What happens when treatment is finished?
Your symptoms may start to improve 2-3 weeks after treatment. This depends on many factors such as the location and size of your cancer and the type of treatment you had. You may continue to see the speech-language therapist after treatment if your symptoms continue to affect your eating, drinking and /or communication.