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)


Led by Dr Jacqui Frowen, the Speech Pathology team’s Dysphagia in Oncology Research Program develops and undertakes 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


Watson, M., Drosdowsky, A., Frowen, J. & Corry, J. (2017), Voice outcomes after radiotherapy treatment for early glottic cancer: Long-term follow up. Journal of Voice, ISSN 0892-1997.

Frowen, J., Drosdowsky, A., Perry, A. & Corry, J. (2015). Long-term swallowing after (Chemo)Radiotherapy for Head and Neck Cancer. Head & Neck. 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, e187-e194.

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.

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.

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.


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 head and neck cancer for 16 years and completed her PhD in 2009. Her research involved a longitudinal cohort study of patients receiving radiotherapy for head and neck cancer, examining their swallowing outcomes before and after treatment. She continues to conduct clinical research in communication and swallowing outcomes after treatment (radiotherapy or surgery) for head and neck cancer and more recently has commenced research into swallowing and voice outcomes after treatment for lung cancer. Dr Frowen is a regular invited lecturer at La Trobe University, Charles Sturt University and the University of Melbourne, on various topics in head and neck cancer and tracheostomy management.

Email: [email protected]

Research projects