Oral, head and neck cancer represents 3% of all cancers in the United States and is the 6th most common cancer worldwide. Tongue cancer patients are treated by glossectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the cancerous tumor. As a result, the tongue properties such as volume, shape, muscle structure, and motility are affected. As a result, the vocal tract acoustics are affected too. This study compares the speech acoustics between normal subjects and partial glossectomy patients with T1 or T2 tumors. The acoustic signal of four vowels (/iy/, /uw/, /eh/, and /ah/) and two fricatives (/s/ and /sh/) were analyzed. Our results show that, while the average formants (F1-F3) for the four vowels between the normal subjects and the glossectomy patients are very similar, the average centers of gravity for the two fricatives differ significantly. These differences in fricatives can be explained by the more posterior constriction in patients due to the glossectomy (or the cancer tumor) and its resulting longer front cavity.
Bibliographic reference. Zhou, Xinhui / Stone, Maureen / Espy-Wilson, Carol Y. (2011): "A comparative acoustic study on speech of glossectomy patients and normal subjects", In INTERSPEECH-2011, 517-520.