Speech Pathology Research

Research focus

  • To understand the patients at greatest risk of swallowing problems (dysphagia) and communication impairments during cancer treatment
  • To determine effective speech pathology interventions and management for people with cancer, both during and post cancer treatment
  • To explore novel models of speech pathology care, including the use of instrumental assessments such as videofluoroscopy swallowing studies (VFSS) and fibreoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES)


The Speech Pathology team’s Dysphagia in Oncology Research Program is led by Dr Jacqui Frowen and aims to develop and undertake research specifically investigating swallowing outcomes before and after cancer treatment.

The program’s head and neck cancer arm has helped further our understanding of swallowing problems after radiotherapy for head and neck cancer, and to help identify which patients are at highest risk of developing these problems. Further research is being undertaken to improve our management of these patients before treatment and to identify interventions to better manage swallowing problems after treatment.

The program also has a non-head and neck cancer arm, looking at the prevalence and nature of swallowing problems after cancer treatments other than head and neck, particularly lung and upper gastrointestinal cancers. We are developing measurement tools for accurate identification of swallowing problems in these patients.


Frowen J, Gough K, Hughes R, Drosdowsky A, Duffy M, Kiss N, Phipps-Nelson J, Siva S, Solomon B, Ball D. (2021). Functional and patient-reported changes in swallowing and voice after combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy for limited stage small cell lung cancer. Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology, 65. 786–795. DOI: 10.1111/1754-9485.13290

Frowen, J., Hughes, R. & Kiss, N. (2021). Introduction of a speech-language pathology assistant role for swallow screening in a head and neck radiotherapy clinic. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 23(4). 441-451. DOI: 10.1080/17549507.2020.1800818

Frowen, J., Hughes, R. & Skeat, J. (2020). The prevalence of patient-reported dysphagia and oral complications in cancer patients. Supportive Care in Cancer, 28(3), 1141-1150. DOI: 10.1007/s00520-019-04921-y

Frowen, J. (2019) Dysphagia in patients with non-head and neck cancer. Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery, 27(3), 162-167. DOI: 10.1097/MOO.0000000000000541

Kiss, N., Gilliland, S., Quinn, P., Atkins, L., Black, J. & Frowen, J. (2019) Evaluating the effectiveness of a nutrition assistant role in a head and neck cancer clinic. Nutrition & Dietetics, 76(1), 21-27. DOI: 10.1111/1747-0080.12462

Watson, M., Drosdowsky, A., Frowen, J. & Corry, J. (2018). Voice outcomes after radiotherapy treatment for early glottic cancer: Long-term follow up. Journal of Voice, 32(5), 636-642. DOI: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2017.08.025.

Frowen, J., Drosdowsky, A., Perry, A. & Corry, J. (2016). Long-term swallowing after chemoradiotherapy: Prospective study of functional and patient-reported changes over timeHead & Neck, 38(S1), e307-315. DOI: 10.1002/hed.23991.  

Frowen, J., Hornby, C., Collins, M., Senthi, S., Cassumbhoy, R. & Corry, J. (2013). Reducing post-treatment dysphagia: Support for the relationship between radiation dose to the pharyngeal constrictors and swallowing outcomesPractical Radiation Oncology, 3(4), e187-e194. DOI: 10.1016/j.prro.2012.11.009

Frowen, J., Cotton, S., Corry, J. & Perry, A. (2010). Impact of Demographics, Tumor Characteristics and Treatment Factors on Swallowing after (Chemo)Radiotherapy for Head and Neck CancerHead & Neck. 32(4), 513-528. DOI: 10.1002/hed.21218

Frowen, J., Cotton, S. & Perry, A. (2008). The stability, reliability and validity of videofluoroscopy measures for patients with head and neck cancer. Dysphagia, 28, 348-363. DOI: 10.1007/s00455-008-9148-1

Perry, A. & Frowen, J. (2006). Speech and swallowing in head and neck cancer patients: what do we know? Cancer Forum, 30(3), 178-183.

Frowen, J. & Perry, A. (2006). Swallowing Outcomes After Radiotherapy for Head and Neck Cancer: A Systematic Review. Head & Neck, 28(10), 932-944. DOI: 10.1002/hed.20438


Name: Dr Jacqui Frowen

Dr Frowen is the Clinical Lead of Speech Pathology at Peter Mac. She has worked as a speech pathologist with a special interest in oncology for over 20 years. Dr Frowen completed her PhD in 2009 and continues to conduct clinical research into swallowing and communication outcomes before and after cancer treatment, particularly for head and neck or lung cancer. She currently holds a Peter Mac Discovery Partner Fellowship, which will support her research on dysphagia in oncology over the next 5 years. Jacqui is passionate about supporting and encouraging other speech pathologists and allied health clinicians to pursue clinical research and enjoys teaching undergraduate speech pathology students as a regular invited lecturer at the University of Melbourne.

Email: [email protected]

Research projects