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Clinical Challenges
February 2003

Clinical Commentary on Prophylactic Treatment of Radiation-Induced Xerostomia

Author Affiliations




Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003;129(2):251-252. doi:10.1001/archotol.129.2.251

Nagler and Baum have presented a concise review of the ongoing research on the mechanisms of radiation-induced damage to salivary glands and the treatment options for radiation-induced xerostomia. In so doing, they have communicated a promising area of research to the scientific community while highlighting their own extensive and provocative contributions to it. Xerostomia is a serious complication of radiation therapy (XRT) that causes many secondary intraoral effects (eg, caries, fungal and microbial infections, altered taste acuity, and dysphagia). Eighty percent of patients with head and neck cancer in the United States receive at least one course of XRT as a component of therapy, and most of them experience xerostomia. Treatment options for irradiation-induced xerostomia are limited. They are determined by dose of irradiation, length of therapy, volume of tissue treated, and the dose of radiation used; involvement of the major salivary gland; and tumor ablative procedures performed before or after XRT. With the advent of gene therapy and IMRT, prophylactic treatment is promising.

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