Salivary flow and its relation with oral symptoms in terminally III patients

Gavriel Chaushu, Michaela Bercovici, Shay Dori, Alexander Waller, Shlomo Taicher, Jona Kronenberg, Yoav P. Talmi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND. Patients with terminal malignant disease commonly report hyposalivation or xerostomia. This leads to 'dry mouth,' fungal infection, and mucosal abnormalities. To the authors' knowledge oral symptomatology and findings have not been correlated previously with accurate salivary flow measurements. METHODS. Measurement of stimulated parotid salivary flow rate and clinical recording of oral symptoms within 24 hours from the time of hospital admission were obtained in 48 terminally ill cancer patients. Subjective reporting of symptoms by patients, parotid salivary flow rate, clinical recording of dental status, presence of candidiasis, angular cheilitis, and dryness of the floor of the mouth were obtained. RESULTS. A clinical diagnosis of oral candidiasis was made tentatively in 94% of patients, and 50% of the patients were found to have angular cheilitis. Thirty-one of 45 evaluable patients (68%) reported a sensation of oral dryness. Sixteen of the 48 patients (33%) had no saliva at the floor of the mouth. Analysis of individual salivary flow rates was stratified into 3 levels of secretion: 0, < 0.2, and ≥ 0.2 mL/minute. Symptoms were found to correlate with salivary flow rates. CONCLUSIONS. In the current study, symptoms were found to be most severe in the patients with xerostomia followed by those patients with hyposalivation. Treatment should be directed individually to each group of patients using either salivary substitutes or stimulants. The rate of incidence of oral pathologic findings may be higher than formerly recognized. (C) 2000 American Cancer Society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)984-987
Number of pages4
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2000


  • Hyposalivation
  • Oral symptomatology
  • Quality of life
  • Saliva
  • Salivary flow
  • Terminal cancer
  • Xerostomia


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