Why is salivary gland regeneration necessary? Patients undergoing radiation for oral cancer often have the salivary glands radiated, leading to a life of saliva deficiency. Saliva cleans the mouth and aids in digestion. The worst part about losing saliva is lack of sleep from continually awakening to moisten the mouth.
There is no medicine that replaces saliva in a successful way. Most oral cancer survivors say it’s the worst part about treatment. However, in June 2010 when I lectured in Athens Greece for HASCOCC (Hellenic Association of Supportive Care of the Oral Cavity in Cancer), I learned from Monique Stockman, RDH, PhD from the University Medical Center Groningen in Holland about their phenomenal saliva remedy for patients who have undergone radiation to the neck.
With mice as their subject, they remove the stem cells from the salivary gland BEFORE treatment for cancer. The stem cells are replaced AFTER treatment concludes. What did they find? New salivary glands grew! They believe that just like the mice, the salivary glands in humans will grow back, too! I got chills up and down my spine thinking about how many survivors could have a better quality of life!
Just this week, an article came out about similar research on salivary gland regeneration in the U.S. I hope future oral cancer patients can benefit from this potential treatment.