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January 22, 1982

Taste loss persists after head/neck irradiation

JAMA. 1982;247(4):422. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320290008005

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Taste loss and salivary dysfunction are usually considered unavoidable complications of radiotherapy for head and neck cancers.

Now a new study, reported by a team of scientists from the Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, shows that impaired taste and salivary function may persist in some patients much longer than has been generally thought (in this series, up to seven years after radiotherapy).

Kenneth L. Mossman, MD, associate professor in Georgetown's Department of Radiation Medicine, told the annual meeting of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiologists in Miami Beach that 13 patients who had been irradiated for tumors of the head and neck from one to seven years previously were followed up. Twelve had been given a total dose of 6,000 to 7,000 rad over six to eight weeks. One patient with lymphoma had been given 3,000 rad in four weeks. All but one patient received radiation in the full