Functional changes of the gustatory organ caused by local radiation exposure during radiotherapy of the head-and-neck region.

Strahlentherapie und Onkologie : Organ der Deutschen Rontgengesellschaft ... [et al]

PubMedID: 18330512

Kamprad F, Ranft D, Weber A, Hildebrandt G. Functional changes of the gustatory organ caused by local radiation exposure during radiotherapy of the head-and-neck region. Strahlenther Onkol. 2008;184(3):157-62.
PURPOSE
The aim of this prospective study was to investigate how often and at which dose levels gustatory disturbances appear during radiotherapy of the tongue and to which extent permanent gustatory deficiencies occur.

PATIENTS AND METHODS
The study included 44 patients treated by definitive irradiation for malignant head-and-neck tumors. In 22 patients the posterior two thirds of the tongue (group 1), and in the other 22 patients the entire tongue (group 2) were exposed to radiation. The control group comprised 30 patients with non-small cell lung cancer receiving definitive radiation therapy (group 3). The dose distribution in the tongue area was calculated using CT-based three-dimensional planning. Before, during and after irradiation the gustatory function was determined by means of gustometry and correlated with the corresponding results of enoral inspection and the patients' subjective statements on gustatory function.

RESULTS
The gustatory ability of the control group was not affected, whereas patients in the locally irradiated groups in parallel with enoral mucositis suffered from loss of gustatory function after a total dose of 20 Gy with a maximum between 40 and 60 Gy. Supportive measures had little influence on acute side effects. The gustatory disturbances regressed within 8 weeks after radiotherapy in patients with partial-tongue irradiation and almost completely after 6 months in patients with entire-tongue irradiation.

CONCLUSION
The severity of gustatory disturbances and the longer recovery time in patients with entire-tongue irradiation suggest an influence of the volume exposed. Therefore, reduction of the highly exposed tongue volume by intensity-modulated radiotherapy opens up possibilities for a reduction of this undesirable side effect.