Late effects of radiation therapy in the head and neck region

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1995 Mar 30;31(5):1141-64. doi: 10.1016/0360-3016(94)00421-G.


The head and neck region is composed of numerous structures, each with an inherent response to radiation that is largely governed by the presence or absence of mucosa, salivary glands, or specialized organs within that site. Irradiated mucocutaneous tissues demonstrate increased vascular permeability that leads to fibrin deposition, subsequent collagen formation, and eventual fibrosis. Irradiated salivary tissue degenerates after relatively small doses, leading to markedly diminished salivary output. This, in turn, effects the teeth by promoting dental decay which, in turn, effects the integrity of the mandible. Details of these changes are presented, including their pathophysiology, clinical syndromes, and potential treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Capillary Permeability / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Mandible / radiation effects*
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology
  • Mouth Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Mouth Mucosa / radiation effects*
  • Radiation Injuries* / etiology
  • Radiation Injuries* / pathology
  • Radiation Injuries* / physiopathology
  • Radiation Injuries* / therapy
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Salivary Glands / pathology
  • Salivary Glands / radiation effects*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin / blood supply
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Tongue / pathology
  • Tongue / radiation effects*
  • Tooth / radiation effects*