Xerostomia After Radiation
Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
I completed radiation and chemo treatments for head and neck cancer almost 2 years ago. I am now 37 and lead a pretty active and normal lifeexcept, that is, for food! Everything is so dry and difficult. Is there anything I can do?
Katrina Claghorn, MS, RD, registered dietitian at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:
Radiation and chemotherapy can sometimes cause permanent dry mouth or xerostomia. This makes eating very difficult since saliva functions not only to moisten foods, but is also important in conferring flavor. Consequently eating becomes more difficult and foods lack taste. Here are some general nutrition tips:
Probably the best suggestions come from those who have experienced similar problems. Support groups for patients and survivors of head and neck cancers often have meetings that focus on nutrition issues.
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