We evaluated objective and subjective swallowing function outcomes in patients with dysphagia treated for head and neck cancer (HNC) and identified risk factors for poor swallowing outcomes. Patients undergoing videofluoroscopic swallowing studies (VFSS) between January 2016 and March 2021 were divided into four groups according to primary tumor sites; post-treatment dysphagia was assessed. The penetration–aspiration scale (PAS) and bolus residue scale (BRS) were used to objectively assess swallowing function through VFSS. The Functional Oral Intake Scale (FOIS) was used for subjective analyses of swallowing statuses. To account for potential confounding, important covariates were adjusted for in logistic regression models. Oropharyngeal tumors were significantly more likely to have poor PAS and BRS scores than oral cavity tumors, and the patients with nasopharyngeal tumors were significantly less likely to have poor FOIS scores. Old age, having multiple HNCs, and a history of radiotherapy were associated with an increased odds of poor PAS scores (for all types of swallows), poor BRS scores (for semiliquid and solid swallows), and poor FOIS scores, respectively. This indicates using only subjective assessments may not allow for accurate evaluations of swallowing function in patients treated for HNC. Using both objective and subjective assessments may allow for comprehensive evaluations.
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