The investigators intend to determine if patients that are already undergoing Hyperbaric
Oxygen (HBO) therapy one year post treatment with radiation therapy for head and neck
cancer, experience improvement in xerostomia and/or taste alteration. The investigators will
enroll a similar demographic one year post treatment with radiation therapy that does not
receive HBO therapy. This is a quality of life study.
Radiation therapy is a commonly utilized treatment modality for head and neck cancer
patients. Xerostomia (i.e. dry mouth) (and taste change) are common and most significant
side effects of this treatment. Xerostomia leads to several complications for patients
including difficulty in chewing, speaking, swallowing, taste and smell abnormalities, oral
infections and inflammation, osteoradionecrosis, dental caries and periodontal disease.
These conditions tend to lead to an overall decreased quality of life for patients affected.
A possible modality for the treatment of xerostomia is the use of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO)
therapy. HBO is the medical use of oxygen at a level higher than atmospheric pressure. It
has been proposed that HBO results in accelerated blood vessel growth and repair in tissue
injuries by increasing the oxygen partial pressure gradient (Bennett, 2005). Today, the use
of HBO is widely accepted for both the treatment and prevention of radiation induced
toxicities such as osteoradionecrosis and soft tissue necrosis.
Here at Upstate University Hospital, the investigators treat approximately 20 patients each
year with hyperbaric oxygen for either the prevention or management of radiation induced
complications such as osteoradionecrosis and /or soft tissue necrosis. The investigators
would like to use this group of patients to evaluate the effect of HBO in the improvement of
radiation induced xerostomia (and or taste change). The investigators' data will be
collected from patients with the use of periodic quality of life questionnaires at 5
timepoints, as well as data relating to the treatment each patient was given. .
- males and females age > 18 previous radiation therapy to the head and neck region at
least one year from end of treatment
- history of parotidectomy history of dementia