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New radiotherapy approach reduces symptoms of dry mouth in patients with head and neck cancers
Date:4/20/2013

ubmandibular gland on the opposite side of the tumour (the "contralateral" gland) and both parotid glands. He also wanted to see what the maximum radiation dose should be, and what the effect of this method of treatment would have on the prevalence of xerostomia in patients six weeks and one year after treatment. [2]

Dr Terhaard said: "Since the submandibular glands are the main source of saliva in resting conditions, the dose to these glands might have serious implications for the feeling of a dry mouth. So, it is important to look for better radiation techniques to spare at least one of the two submandibular glands. Sparing the submandibular glands is, however very difficult. In general, the submandibular gland situated near to the tumour of the throat cannot be spared. So, in this study we tried to spare the submandibular gland on the opposite side. We looked for the correlation between the radiation dose received by this gland and the decrease of the production of saliva."

Dr Terhaard and his colleagues recruited 50 patients with throat cancers, in which cancer cells had not migrated into the contralateral lymph nodes, and which had not metastasised (spread) to other parts of the body. They were treated with the contralateral submandibular gland-sparing IMRT. This meant that the contralateral glands received much lower radiation doses than they would do with standard radiotherapy for the condition. These patients were compared with a historical group of 52 patients who had received radiotherapy that had spared only the parotid glands.

After six weeks and after one year, the researchers measured saliva flow objectively from the submandibular and parotid glands by stimulating saliva with citric acid on the tongue and catching the resulting saliva in specially designed cups. They also used a questionnaire to measure the patients' subjective experience of dry mouth.

"We found that saliva flows from the contralateral submandibular
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Contact: Emma Mason (media enquiries only)
wordmason@mac.com
European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO)
Source:Eurekalert

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