The development of parotid gland lymphoepithelial cysts in the early stages of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is considered a precursor to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Parotid enlargement greatly affects the quality of life of these patients. Many patients may experience emotional and psychological distress due to discrimination in personal and work relations as a result of their facial disfigurement.
Standard treatment for this disorder has been superficial parotidectomy, repeated fine-needle aspirations or observation alone. There is also another option. A brief course of low dose radiation therapy offers many advantages over surgery. Operative morbidity and mortality are avoided, and personnel are not exposed to HIV-infected body fluids.
What is Radiation Therapy and how does it work?
Radiation therapy is the use of high energy x-rays to destroy dividing cells. In this case it works just like a regular X-ray only it uses higher energy.
Is Radiation Therapy safe?
Radiation has been used successfully to treat patients for more than 100 years. It is used for cancer and benign diseases. Many advances have been made to ensure that radiation therapy is safe and effective. Before you begin receiving radiation therapy, your radiation team will carefully tailor your plan to make sure you receive safe and accurate treatment. Treatment will be focused in the parotid region, sparing the healthy tissue around it. Throughout your treatment, members of your team check and re-check your plan. Special computers are also used to monitor and double-check the treatment machines to make sure the proper treatment is given. Radiation therapy will not make you radioactive after treatment.
What should I expect during treatment?
The actual treatment takes only minutes from start to finish. Here’s what you can expect:
Every day, the radiation therapists will assure correct position, including the use of the immobilization device if that is a part of treatment. Once correct placement is assured, the therapists will leave the room and go to the control area to closely monitor you on a television screen. There is a microphone in the treatment room so you can always talk with the therapists. Each session is painless; you don’t see it, taste it, or smell it; it is just like getting an X-ray. You will be on the treatment table for 10-15 minutes; most of this time is spent setting you up. You will go home/work directly after completion of your treatment and return to a normal routine.
Treatments are scheduled five days a week, Monday through Friday, for two to three weeks.
What should I expect post-treatment
The response to treatment is rapid. The parotid gland becomes soft and fluctuant by the third or fourth treatment and regresses almost completely within 1 month.
Here is a link to the journal article where the pictures below were taken from