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Explorative study on quality of life in relation to salivary secretion rate in head and neck cancer patients treated with radiotherapy.

Journal article
Authors Annica Almståhl
Torgny Alstad
Bodil Fagerberg-Mohlin
Anette Carlén
Caterina Finizia
Published in Head & neck
Volume 38
Issue 5
Pages 782-791
ISSN 1097-0347
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Odontology
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Otorhinolaryngology
Institute of Odontology, Section 3
Pages 782-791
Language en
Keywords quality of life;radiation therapy;cancer;saliva;minor gland saliva
Subject categories Cancer and Oncology


Background: Radiation therapy (RT) to the head and neck (H&N) region often results in oral complications. In this explorative study, the pretreatment and posttreatment (6 months and 12 months) quality of life (QoL) was analysed for patients with H&N cancer. The associations between QoL and salivary secretion rates were analysed. Methods: In 29 patients (19 men and 10 women, mean age 59±8 years), the stimulated whole salivary secretion and buccal minor gland secretion were measured. The patients completed the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life questionnaires (QLQ-C30 and H&N35) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS). Results: One year after the completion of radiotherapy, subjects with hyposalivation (≤ 0.7 ml/min) reported clinically meaningful, but not statistically significant differences, in cognitive functioning, insomnia, swallowing, social eating, dry mouth, sticky saliva and use of painkillers. Statistically significant differences were found for emotional functioning, sticky saliva and dyspnea (p<0.05). Thirtythree percent of them had a HADS score suggesting anxiety problems compared to 8% for those with whole stimulated salivary secretion rates > 0.7 ml/min. Conclusion: Radiotherapy in the H&N region, also using intensity-modulated radiotherapy, is associated with many aspects of life such as cognitive functioning, insomnia, dry mouth and sticky saliva, especially for those with hyposalivation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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