The effects of radiation on parotid salivary function

James E. Marks, Catherine C. Davis, Vikki L. Gottsman, James E. Purdy, Fransiska Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Postoperative electron beam irradiation of patients with parotid cancer has been used regularly at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology to spare the opposite parotid and to preserve salivary function. Only anecdotal reports of amount of radiation required to ablate salivary function exist. To establish a dose-response curve for the human parotid, selective measurements of right and left parotid salivary flow were done for 15 age-matched control patients whose parotids were not irradiated, 17 patients who had both parotids irradiated, and 12 whose parotids were irradiated by unilateral electron beam technique. Point calculations of absorbed dose 1 cm below the surface were done for all 88 parotids and correlated with stimulated parotid salivary flow, pH, and secretory IgA (SIgA). Increasing doses of radiation resulted in progressive reduction of parotid salivary flow, pH and SIgA. The technique, dosimetry, and clinical application of unilateral electron beam irradiation to spare the opposite parotid will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1019
Number of pages7
JournalInternational journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1981


  • Late radiation effects
  • Parotid gland
  • Saliva
  • Secretory IgA


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