Xerostomia has a devastating impact on oral function and quality of life in patients who receive radiation treatment for head and neck cancer. The purpose of this study was to examine functional outcomes related to 2 saliva-sparing treatments: (1) oral pilocarpine during radiotherapy; or (2) the submandibular salivary gland transfer (SGT) before radiotherapy.
Sixty-nine patients were recruited (SGT = 36; pilocarpine = 33). Speech intelligibility, swallowing outcomes, and quality of life were assessed at 4 points in time (pretreatment, and 1 month, 6 months, and 12 months after the pretreatment assessment).
There were no differences between groups in speech outcomes; however, significant between-group differences existed in swallowing and quality of life outcomes. In all cases, patients who received the SGT procedure had better swallowing outcomes and quality of life scores than the patients who received oral pilocarpine.
The SGT should be the treatment of choice between the 2 treatments offered to prevent xerostomia in the present study. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2012