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New radiotherapy approach reduces symptoms of dry mouth in patients with head and neck cancers
Date:4/20/2013

glands were significantly higher at six weeks and at one year in patients who received a dose to the submandibular gland of less than 40 Gy, and this translated into fewer complaints of dry mouth. Using the new technique, we managed to keep the dose under 40 Gy in 50 percent of the patients," said Dr Terhaard. "Now we are looking for further improvements, since in 50 percent of the patients the dose to the submandibular glands was still too high."

The researchers found that all but one of the patients who could be treated with radiation doses of less than 40 Gy to the submandibular gland were the patients who had small tumours (less than 4cms in diameter). These patients consequently had fewer problems with xerostomia after a year.

"If the tumour is more advanced larger than 4cms or with the contralateral lymph nodes involved the distance from the tumour to the contralateral submandibular gland may become too small to spare this gland," said Dr Terhaard.

"This is the largest detailed study to show the correlation between the dose to the submandibular gland and the measured output of the contralateral submandibular gland. It is the first study to show subjectively and objectively that when you reduce the dose to the submandibular gland, the patients have fewer severe complaints. This leads to a guideline, which can be used in clinical practice, of the recommended maximum dose of 40 Gy for the submandibular gland. It also shows that with improved techniques, such as IMRT, you may better spare the submandibular gland, as well the parotid glands," he concluded.

President of ESTRO, Professor Vincenzo Valentini, a radiation oncologist at the Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli, Rome, Italy, commented: "The translation of a dosimetry benefit into a clinical benefit is of definitive relevance in the era of highly sophisticated radiotherapy. There is a new generation of studies becoming available that aims to confirm the impact of the
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Contact: Emma Mason (media enquiries only)
wordmason@mac.com
European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO)
Source:Eurekalert

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