Head and Neck Cancer


What is Head and Neck Cancer?

Head and neck cancer can include that of the oral cavity (mouth, lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, tonsils, and mouth floor), salivary glands, sinuses, nasal cavity and throat/pharynx, larynx/voice box. If found early, these types of cancers are often curable; however, the treatments may include surgery, radiation and chemo therapy, or even a combination.

How can AAC benefit individuals with Head and Neck Cancer?

If you or a family member has recently undergone head or neck surgery, then you understand how frustrating it can be not being able to communicate. Not every individual is able to meet their communication goals, so they may still require additional assistance through the use of AAC. Even for those that are making satisfactory progress, and those that are good communicators, they may still need various forms AAC when having difficulty expressing themselves in certain (i.e. noisy, crowded) situations.

SurgeryCommon AAC Methods
Tongue (Glossectomy) and Maxilla (Maxillectomy) Gestures (e.g. waving, head nods), writing, picture communication boards or an augmentative and assistive communication (AAC) device.
Larynx (Laryngectomy) Forms of alaryngeal speech or an augmentative and assistive communication (AAC) device.

For individuals with head/neck cancer… an AAC device should:

  • Support quick, easy and efficient interaction within larger groups of people, providing a clear voice for noisy, crowded situations.
  • Provide meaningful messages to communication partners. (at work, home or in the community etc.)
  • Encourage social interaction on a variety of platforms (in person, by phone, text message, e-mail, and web)

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