Vowel production in patients treated for oral cancer.

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Acoustic measurement is an objective method to determine changes in articulation in oral cancer patients. The goal of the study is to find out whether the formant values of the Dutch vowel system are altered when produced by oral cancer patients, meaning that they have difficulty with placing the tongue in the mouth, and whether vowel duration and vowel overlap are altered for oral cancer patients. This was done by examining the /i, I, e:, u/ produced by oral cancer patients (n=6) and healthy controls (n=5) in a sentence context. The first two formants as well as the duration and Pillai scores, a measure of vowel overlap, were analyzed. Results show that the F2 of the /i, I/ was lower when produced by the patient group. The vowel duration of /i, I/ was found to be longer when produced by the patient group. There was no difference found in vowel overlap of these two vowels between the participant groups. The production of /i, I/ was thus found to be altered in terms of F1, F2 and vowel duration when produced by patients treated for oral cancer whereas this patient group did manage to distinct the production of these two vowels. Future research might include larger stimulus samples and more consistent phoneme environments. However, this study gives new insights in vowel production of Dutch oral cancer speakers.
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