Xerostomia: 12-Month changes in saliva production and its relationship to perception and performance of swallow function, oral intake, and diet after chemoradiation




Previous investigators have found permanent changes in saliva production after chemoradiation but have not examined these in relation to swallowing measures, diet changes, and patient comfort over time.


Thirty patients with advanced stage cancer of the oropharynx treated with chemoradiation were followed with videofluoroscopic swallow studies, a measure of stimulated total saliva production, a questionnaire of their perception of dry mouth, and a questionnaire on the nature of their oral intake at pretreatment until 12 months after treatment.


Saliva declined significantly from pretreatment to 12 months. Swallowing-related complaints increased significantly over the 12 months, especially in patients with lower saliva weights. Diet choices increased over time after treatment, except crunchy foods. Swallow measures did not relate to saliva weight.


Reduced saliva weight does not correlate with slowed or inefficient swallow. Instead, reduced saliva weight seems to change patients' perceptions of their swallowing ability and, on that basis, their diet choices. © 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck 25: 432–437, 2003