The speech pathology team assess and treat a wide range of speech, swallowing and communication difficulties.
At Peter Mac, speech pathology is mostly offered to patients with cancer of the head and neck region, although patients with other cancers can be seen as required. If you have a head and neck cancer, swallowing or communicating may be difficult because of the location of your tumour or the treatment you are receiving. You may be referred to a speech pathologist so they can assess any difficulties and provide relevant information and interventions.
How speech pathology can help
Radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery can all cause side effects such as difficulty swallowing, problems chewing and voice or communication problems that may require a speech pathologist. If you have had your larynx (voice box) surgically removed, a speech pathologist will help you communicate.
Swallowing problems are particularly common for cancer patients and, if left undetected or untreated, can impact significantly on your quality of life, and may lead to aspiration pneumonia. A videofluoroscopy study (a moving x-ray examination) or FEES (fibreoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing) may be used to thoroughly diagnose the cause of a swallowing problem. Suitable advice and/or exercises can be provided, including teaching techniques to make it easier and safer to swallow or changing the texture or thickness of what you eat and drink.
Speech pathology services are available Monday to Friday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
If a member of your treating team thinks you would benefit from seeing a speech pathologist, they will provide the necessary referral for you. You can also speak to a member of your treating team if you think you need to see a speech pathologist and they can provide a referral for you.
Some treatments are likely to impact on your swallowing or communication abilities (this may be chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery). If you are receiving one of these treatments an appointment to see a speech pathologist may automatically be scheduled for you depending on the location of your cancer. These appointments are an important part of your care and will ensure you are provided with the right advice as early in your treatment as possible.
Phone: 03 8559 5220
Fax: 03 8559 5259
Dr Jacqui Frowen - Clinical lead Speech Pathologist
Jenelle Loeliger - Head Nutrition and Speech Pathology Department