Oncology-Related Communication Disorders



  • ACLC staff: prof. dr. Michiel van den Brekel, senior researcher, coordinator [also NKI/AVL], prof. dr. Olga Fischer, senior researcher, prof. dr. Frans Hilgers, senior researcher, [also NKI/AVL], dr. Rob van Son, senior researcher [also NKI/AVL], dr. Anne Bannink, senior researcher.
  • ACLC PhD candidates: Renee Clapham [also NKI/AVL], PhD candidate on Rob van Son’s project, September 2010 – September 2015, Klaske van Sluis [also NKI/AVL], PhD candidate on Rob van Son’s and Lisette van der Molen’s project, September 2015, Manon van der Laaken, PhD candidate on Michiel van den Brekel’s project, September 2016, Sophie Kraaijenga [also NKI/AVL], PhD candidate on Michiel van den Brekel’s project September 2012 - January 2017.
  • External staff: dr. Lisette van der Molen, senior researcher [NKI/AVL], prof. dr. Jean-Pierre Martens, senior researcher [DSSP-ELIS Ghent University] dr. Cahterine Middag, senior researcher [DSSP-ELIS Ghent University], dr. Gwen van Nuffelen, senior researcher [Antwerp University Hospital].


One of the key aims of all research projects is to investigate if, and how, speakers learn to compensate for changes in speech and voice as a result of head and neck cancer. It is assumed that physiological limitations constraint certain communicative and language functions, which can impact language behaviour. All research has a clinical focus and there are strong ties between the ACLC and the Netherlands Cancer Institute-Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital.There is extensive collaboration with the DSSP-ELIS at Ghent University and the Antwerp University Hospital. This research has four major branches:

  • Phonetics of oncology-related pathological speech
  • Automatic evaluation of oncology-related pathological speech (collaboration with Ghent University)
  • Tele-Health applications and tools for Speech and Language Therapists collaboration with Ghent University and Antwerp University Hospital)
  • Tools and resources for Speech Research and Speech and Language Therapists

Research projects

PhD projects:

  • Predicting substitute voice source characteristics after laryngectomy. Klaske van Sluis
  • Automatic evaluation of voice and speech intelligibility following treatment of head and neck cancer. Renee Clapham
  • Physician-Patient communication about quality of life in head and neck cancer consultations. Manon van der Laaken
  • Long-term oropharyngeal and laryngeal function in patients with advanced head and neck cancer. Sophie Kraaijenga

Other projects

  • Rob van Son currently works for the NKI on a grant from Atos Medical (Hornby, Sweden). His work is to study and implement speech and language technologies that can help revalidation and therapy of patients. He studies the use of automatic speech recognition to quantify speech intelligibility and quality in patients after treatment. This involves constructing corpora of pathological speech and developing software tools to analyze voices. Van Son is also interested in articulatory synthesis as a tool to predict speech disorders before treatment starts.
  • Voice and articulation functioning in head and neck cancer patients. (I. Jacobi) A combined assessment of acoustics and patient- or treatment-individual characteristics is used to study the effects of surgical procedures or treatment modalities on voice and articulation in more detail. Next to refining the objective assessment of speech or voice (muscle) functioning, the patients’ subjectively experienced (dis)abilities are considered. Aim is to better predict treatment effects, also in view of speech therapy.

Published by  ACLC

28 March 2017