The treatment of head and neck cancer has evolved from conventional fields encompassing large volumes of normal tissue to focused treatment aimed at conforming the dose around the target while avoiding normal tissue. Intensity modulated radiation therapy has changed the way radiation oncologists think about head and neck cancer. Using the concepts of conformal treatment and avoidance, the therapeutic ratio can be improved and technology exploited to the patients' advantage. This is particularly evident with head and neck irradiation, where a common side effect is xerostomia. By decreasing xerostomia through conformal avoidance of the parotid glands, we can improve patient satisfaction and quality of life. In this study, xerostomia is assessed through a subjective salivary gland function questionnaire. This article examines the use of intensity modulated radiation therapy in the treatment of head and neck cancer to decrease xerostomia. The purpose of this article is to evaluate the significance of parotid gland dosimetry in relation to subjective salivary gland function.
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