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Oncology-Related Communication Disorders

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: 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.
  • 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
  • Physician-Patient communication about quality of life in head and neck cancer consultations. Manon van der Laaken

Other projects

  • In collaboration with Gent University tools are developed to automatically quantify speech intelligibility and speech quality in patients after treatment. We collaborate with Twente University in the Virtual Therapy project ( As part of this research, we investigate articulatory speech synthesis as a tool to predict speech disorders before treatment starts. The department of Head- and Neck Oncology and Surgery currently receives an unrestricted research grant from Atos Medical (Hörby, Sweden).

External website Hoofd Hals Centrum AVL [in Dutch]

Annual report 2017 Annual report 2016