Two-year longitudinal study of parotid salivary flow rates in head and neck cancer patients receiving unilateral neck parotid-sparing radiotherapy treatment

Oral Oncol. 1999 May;35(3):234-41. doi: 10.1016/s1368-8375(98)00104-3.


Radiotherapy (RT) is a common treatment for head and neck cancers, and frequently causes permanent salivary dysfunction and xerostomia. This 2-year longitudinal study evaluated unstimulated and stimulated parotid flow rates in 11 patients with head and neck cancers who received unilateral neck parotid-sparing RT. The results demonstrated that treated parotid glands had essentially no output up to 2 years post-RT. Alternatively, spared parotid flow rates were indistinguishable from pre-RT values at 1 and 2 years post-RT, and increased slightly over time. Total unstimulated and stimulated parotid flow rates 2 years after completion of RT were similar to pre-RT values, suggesting that spared parotid function may compensate for lost function from treated parotid glands. These results demonstrate that unilateral neck parotid-sparing techniques are effective in preserving contralateral parotid glands up to 2 years after the completion of RT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parotid Gland / metabolism
  • Parotid Gland / radiation effects*
  • Saliva / metabolism*
  • Xerostomia / etiology
  • Xerostomia / metabolism